Nicotine stimulates new blood vessel growth
Most forms of smoking cessation treatment involve the use of nicotine without tobacco. Thus, the effects of such doses of nicotine on the body are crucial. However, according to new research published in the July issue of (Nature Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 7, 01 July 2001, page 833), the bad news for those using these products to stop smoking is that nicotine without tobacco can cause angiogenesis - new blood vessel growth - which in turn aids the growth of atherosclerotic plaques and tumors.
John Cooke and colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine tested the effects of nicotine on two human endothelial cell lines and found that the compound substantially increased the number of these cells whilst decreasing the number of cells able to die through apoptosis (programmed cell death). The scientists also tested the effects of nicotine in mouse models of atherosclerosis and lung cancer and found that it stimulates new blood vessel growth and enlarges tumor size. Perhaps most alarming is the discovery that nicotine has these effects at a concentration that is found in the plasma of smokers.
Rakesh Jain discusses the findings in an accompanying News & Views article (page 775) and speculates on their molecular implications.
Dr. John P. Cooke
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine
300 Pasteur Drive
Stanford, CA 94305
Tel: (+1) 650-725-3778
Fax: (+1) 650-723-6141
Dr. Rakesh Jain
Department of Radiation Oncology
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Tel: (+1) 617-726-4083
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza