According to a new study, researchers have found that nicotine actually promotes the spread of lung cancer cells into the brain where they can form deadly metastatic tumors. Nicotine is a non-carcinogenic chemical which is found in tobacco. The study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The research team first examined 281 lung cancer patients and found that cigarette smokers exhibited a significantly higher incidence of brain cancer.
Around 40% of lung cancer patients develop brain metastasis, but this new research has found out that this number is dramatically higher among smokers. In this study, the researchers have found that nicotine enhanced brain metastasis by crossing blood-brain barrier to change microglia. Microglia is a type of immune cell in the brain. The mouse model suggested that it supported tumor growth. The team of researchers then looked for drugs that might reverse the effects of nicotine and identified parthenolide, which blocked nicotine-induced brain metastasis in the mice.
Dr. Kounosuke Watabe, a professor of cancer biology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, said, “There is an urgent need to understand the mechanisms that drive brain metastasis so that more effective therapies can be developed.”“E-cigarette, nicotine patch, and nicotine gum are commonly used as nicotine replacement therapies to help these patients cease smoking. However, our results clearly show that nicotine has profound and long-term effects on brain metastasis progression, suggesting that cancer patients should be cautious in their use of nicotine for smoking cessation”, he added.
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