Nicotine induces resistance to chemotherapy by modulating mitochondrial signaling in lung cancer.
Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2009 Feb;40(2):135-46. Epub 2008 Aug 1. PMID: 18676776
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Rm H3143, Stanford, CA 94305-5236, USA.
Continued smoking causes tumor progression and resistance to therapy in lung cancer. Carcinogens possess the ability to block apoptosis, and thus may induce development of cancers and resistance to therapy. Tobacco carcinogens have been studied widely; however, little is known about the agents that inhibit apoptosis, such as nicotine. We determine whether mitochondrial signaling mediates antiapoptotic effects of nicotine in lung cancer. A549 cells were exposed to nicotine (1 muM) followed by cisplatin (35 muM) plus etoposide (20 muM) for 24 hours. We found that nicotine prevented chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, improved cell survival, and caused modest increases in DNA synthesis. Inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Akt prevented the antiapoptotic effects of nicotine and decreased chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. Small interfering RNA MAPK kinase-1 blocked antiapoptotic effects of nicotine, whereas small interfering RNA MAPK kinase-2 blocked chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. Nicotine prevented chemotherapy-induced reduction in mitochondrial membrane potential and caspase-9 activation. Antiapoptotic effects of nicotine were blocked by mitochondrial anion channel inhibitor, 4,4'diisothiocyanatostilbene-2,2'disulfonic acid. Chemotherapy enhanced translocation of proapoptotic Bax to the mitochondria, whereas nicotine blocked these effects. Nicotine up-regulated Akt-mediated antiapoptotic X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein and phosphorylated proapoptotic Bcl2-antagonist of cell death. The A549-rho0 cells, which lack mitochondrial DNA, demonstrated partial resistance to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, but blocked the antiapoptotic effects of nicotine. Accordingly, we provide evidence that nicotine modulates mitochondrial signaling and inhibits chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in lung cancer. The mitochondrial regulation of nicotine imposes an important mechanism that can critically impair the treatment of lung cancer, because many cancer-therapeutic agents induce apoptosis via the mitochondrial death pathway. Strategies aimed at understanding nicotine-mediated signaling may facilitate the development of improved therapies in lung cancer.