Development of novel therapeutic strategies for lung cancer: Targeting the cholinergic system

Patrizia Russo, A. Catassi, A. Cesario, D. Servent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the earliest descriptions of non-neuronal ACh synthesis was by Morris who reported that ACh was synthesized in the placenta [1]; furthermore, Falugi et al. showed the presence of AChE in human fibrosarcoma cells [2]. Afterward, the expression of ACh, AChE, and cholinergic receptors in non-neuronal cells was reported in several studies [3-16]. Indeed, recent data reported that SCLC expresses a cholinergic autocrine loop that can regulate cell growth. Such work demonstrates that SCLC cells have a cholinergic phepotype and that ACh exerts as an autocrine growth factor in human lung tumours [16]. Moreover, it has been recently reported that nicotine in lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells, potently induces Bad phosphorylation at serine (S)112, S136 and S155 in a mechanism involving activation of MAPKs, ERK1/2, PI3K/AKT and PKA through the linking to α7-receptors [9]. Bad phosphorylation results in sequestering Bad from mitochondria and subsequently interacting with 14-3-3 in the cytosol [9]. We have recently reported that human malignant pleural mesothelioma expresses a cholinergic system, involved in cell growth regulation. Hence, mesothelioma cells growth is modulated by the cholinergic system in which agonists (i.e. nicotine) have a proliferative effect and antagonists (i.e. curare or α-cobratoxin) have an inhibitory effect. Furthermore apoptosis mechanisms, are under the control of the cholinergic system (nicotine antiapoptotic via induction of NF-κB complexes and phosphorylation of Bad at S112, curare proapoptotic via G0-G1, arrest p21waf-1-dependent, but p53-independent) [16]. The involvement of the non-neuronal cholinergic system in lung cancer and mesothelioma appears reasonable and opens up new translational research strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3493-3512
Number of pages20
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Cell growth
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Neurotoxins
  • Non-neuronal cholinergic system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of novel therapeutic strategies for lung cancer: Targeting the cholinergic system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this