Welcome! Login | Register
 

Protect Clean Water Necessary for Good Health and Strong Economy—Two decades ago, Boston Harbor was widely considered…

The Scoop: RI GOP Blasts Raimondo/Reed Commercial, Lynch Called for Pierson Resignation, and More—Welcome back to The Scoop, the 4 p.m.…

RI’s Best Upscale Pizza Places—We begin our two-week look at Rhode Island's…

Child Death Resulting from Staphylococcus Aureus Sepsis Associated with Enteroviral Infection—The Rhode Island Department of Health has confirmed…

Providence Ranked Worst City for People with Disabilities—Providence was ranked the worst city for people…

NEW: Three RI Schools Named National Blue Ribbon Schools—The U.S. Department of Education has honored Barrington…

NEW: RI Republican Party Chairman Files Board of Elections Complaint Alleging Finance Violation—Mark Smiley, the Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman,…

It’s All About Education: Chronic Absenteeism’s Effect on Learning—One of the biggest challenges in our schools…

The Scoop: Fung’s Plan to Reform Taxes, Gorbea Adds to Campaign Team, and More—Welcome back to The Scoop, the 4 p.m.…

Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Braised Chicken Agrodolce with Dried Plums—Agrodolce (pronounced "agro-dolchay") is an Italian term for…

 
 

Brown Researchers Find New Dangers in Nicotine

Saturday, February 25, 2012

 

New research from Brown shows that nicotine may contribute to heart disease... even when not in cigarette smoke.

Cigarette smoke has long been considered the main risk factor for heart disease. But new research from Brown University shows that nicotine itself, a component of cigarette smoke, can contribute to the disease in insidious ways. Which means nicotine gum and patches may be threatening to heart health.

The Brown research focuses on a process by which nicotine changes cell structure in a way that promotes migration and invasion of the smooth muscle cells that line blood vessels. In particular, invading cells can remodel structures called podosomes, and this leads to further degradation of vessel integrity.

Ultimately, this cellular migration and invasion process gives rise to the formation of vessel-clogging fatty deposits known as plaque – the hallmark of heart and blood vessel disease. The results on the nicotine-podosome link will be presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), this coming week in San Diego, CA.

Implication for nicotine patches and gum

If confirmed in further studies, the finding that nicotine itself promotes vessel damage by changing podosomes appears to question the health benefits of helping people quit smoking through smokeless nicotine delivery agents such as gum or patches.

"The finding that nicotine is as effective as cigarette smoke in enhancing cellular structural changes, and breakdown of scaffold proteins by vascular smooth muscle cells, suggests that replacing cigarette smoking by nicotine treatment may have limited beneficial effects on atherosclerosis," said lead researcher Chi-Ming Hai, professor of medical science in the department of molecular pharmacology, physiology, and biotechnology at Brown.

Nicotine and plaque formation

Hai’s research illuminates the multistep process of plaque formation, and suggests that a new powerful player, nicotine, may be involved. The plaque formation process begins as a response to cellular injury, and progresses to destructive and chronic inflammation of the vessel walls that attracts mobs of white blood cells, further inflaming the vessels. This damage-causing inflammation can be triggered by chemical insults from high blood sugar, modified low-density lipoproteins (LDL, the "bad cholesterol"), physical stress from high blood pressure, or chemical insult from tobacco smoke. Now nicotine itself appears to remodel key structures in a way that primes and enhances the invasion of smooth muscle lining the vessel wall.

Identifying a possible nicotine-posodome link in the invasion step of plaque formation process suggests a new means of intervening in the process: targeting the cell structures that are changed by nicotine and that promote invasion of the smooth muscle lining the vessel wall. If a therapy could prevent, slow, or reverse that step, it would likely interrupt the plaque-production cycle.

Fatty deposits accumulate in blood vessels beginning as young as age 10 and progress over a person's lifetime. Heart disease results if the deposits continue to build and harden into vessel-clogging plaque. When plaque ruptures, it can block blood flow, starving the heart or brain of oxygen and leading to a heart attack or stroke.

For more Health coverage, go to GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.

 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.