BACKGROUND: The morbidity and mortality associated with tobacco smoking is well established. Nicotine is the addictive component of tobacco. Nicotine, through non-neuronal 7nicotinic receptor, induces cell proliferation, neo-angiogenesis, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, and inhibits drug-induced apoptosis.
OBJECTIVE: To understand the genetic, molecular and cellular biology of addiction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
METHODS: The search for papers to be included in the review was performed during the months of July-September 2018 in the following databases: PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov), Scopus (http://www.scopus.com), EMBASE (http://www.elsevier.com/online-tools/embase), and ISI Web of Knowledge (http://apps.webofknowledge.com/). The following searching terms: "nicotine", "nicotinic receptor", and "addiction" or "COPD" or "lung cancer were used. Patents were retrieved in clinicaltrials.gov (https://clinicaltrials.gov/). All papers written in English were evaluated. The reference list of retrieved articles was also reviewed to identify other eligible studies that were not indexed by the above-mentioned databases. New experimental data on the ability of nicotine to promote transformation of human bronchial epithelial cells, exposed for one h to Benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-diol-9-10-epoxide, are reported.
RESULTS: Nicotinic receptors variants and nicotinic receptors upregulation are involved in addiction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or lung cancer. Nicotine trough 7nicotinic receptor up-regulation induces complete bronchial epithelial cells transformation.
CONCLUSION: Genetic studies highlight the involvement of nicotinic receptors variants in addiction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or lung cancer. A future important step will be to translate these genetic findings to clinical practice. Interventions able to help smoking cessation in nicotine dependence subjects, under patent, are reported.