Nicotine improves survival in a rodent model of sepsis, according to a report in the November issue of Nature Medicine.
During sepsis -- a leading cause of mortality in industrialized societies -- there is an exaggerated inflammatory response that ultimately leads to multiple organ failure and death. Luis Ulloa and his colleagues found that the neurotransmitter acetylcholine inhibits cellular events that are involved in this inflammatory reaction. The action of acetylcholine depends on a receptor that can also bind nicotine and, indeed, nicotine proved to be more efficient in eliciting an anti-inflammatory effect. Moreover, nicotine administration to rodents with sepsis prevented their death.
These results show that acetylcholine is a physiological inhibitor of inflammation and suggest that molecules related to nicotine might be useful for the treatment of sepsis.
Luis Ulloa (Center of Immunology and Inflammation, North Shore-LIJ Research Institute, Manhasset, NY, USA)
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Also available online.
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
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