Nicotine exposure and the progression of chronic kidney disease: Role of the α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

Academic Article


  • Clinical studies have established the role of cigarette smoking as a risk factor in the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD). We have shown that nicotine promotes mesangial cell proliferation and hypertrophy via nonneuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). The α7-nAChR is one of the most important subunits of the nAChRs. These studies were designed to test the hypothesis that nicotine worsens renal injury in rats with 5/6 nephrectomy (5/6Nx) and that the α7-nAChR subunit is required for these effects. We studied five different groups: Sham, 5/6Nx, 5/6Nx + nicotine (Nic; 100 μg/ml dry wt), 5/6Nx + Nic + α7-nAChR blocker methyllicaconitine (MLA; 3 mg·kg-1·day-1 sq), and Sham + Nic. Blood pressure was measured by the tail-cuff method, and urine was collected for proteinuria. After 12 wk, the rats were euthanized and kidneys were collected. We observed expression of the α7-nAChR in the proximal and distal tubules. The administration of nicotine induced a small increase in blood pressure and resulted in cotinine levels similar to those found in the plasma of smokers. In 5/6Nx rats, the administration of nicotine significantly increased urinary protein excretion (onefold), worsened the glomerular injury score and increased fibronectin (~ 50%), NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4; ~100%), and transforming growth factor-β expression (~200%). The administration of nicotine to sham rats increased total proteinuria but not albuminuria, suggesting direct effects on tubular protein reabsorption. These effects were prevented by MLA, demonstrating a critical role for the α7-nAChR as a mediator of the effects of nicotine in the progression of CKD. © 2012 the American Physiological Society.
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    Author List

  • Rezonzew G; Chumley P; Feng W; Hua P; Siegal GP; Jaimes EA
  • Volume

  • 303
  • Issue

  • 2