Indexed on: 29 Jul '06Published on: 29 Jul '06Published in: American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
A strong correlation exists between smoking and lung cancer; however, susceptibility to lung cancer among smokers is not uniform. Similarly, mice show differential susceptibility to the tobacco carcinogen nitrosamine 4-(methyl-nitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), which produces lung tumors in A/J but not in C3H mice. Host immunity may play a role in the susceptibility to cancer, and cigarette smoke/nicotine suppresses the immune system through activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Mammalian lungs express alpha7-nAChRs, and NNK is a high-affinity agonist for alpha7-nAChRs. To examine whether NNK differentially modulates lung immunity in susceptible and resistant mouse strains, A/J and C3H mice were treated with NNK and/or immunized with sheep red blood cells. Lung tissues and RNA of treated and untreated animals were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR for alpha7-nAChR and COX-2 expression. Spleen- and the lung-associated lymph node cells from control and immunized animals were assessed for immunologic responses, including anti-sheep red blood cell antibody plaque-forming cells, concanavalin A-induced T-cell proliferation, and the anti-CD3/CD28 antibody-induced rise in intracellular calcium. NNK strongly suppressed these responses in A/J but not in C3H mice. Similar NNK-induced immunologic changes were seen in another pair of carcinogen-sensitive (NGP) and relatively carcinogen-resistant (B10.A) mouse strains. Moreover, NNK stimulates a significantly higher expression of COX-2 and alpha7-nAChRs in A/J than in C3H lungs. These results suggest that the susceptibility to chemical carcinogenesis among various mouse strains might be influenced by their immunologic response to the carcinogen.