Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit α7 mediates cigarette smoke‐induced pd‐l1 expression in human bronchial epithelial cells

Hoi Hin Kwok, Boning Gao, Koon Ho Chan, Mary Sau Man Ip, John Dorrance Minna, David Chi Leung Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Tobacco smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer development. Nicotine in cigarettes can induce addiction, and its derivatives become potent carcinogens after metabolic activation and activate oncogenic signaling in lung epithelial cells through their expressed nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). However, the effects of smoking on the tumor immune microenvironment are under investigation. In the current study, we investigated whether nicotine activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit α7 (nAChRα7, CHRNA7) would induce PD‐L1 expression in lung epithelial cells. The expression levels of nAChRα7 and PD‐L1 in eight human bronchial epithelial cell (HBEC) lines were measured after treatment with cigarette smoke extract (CSE) or nicotine de-rivatives. The results showed that PD‐L1 expression levels increased in HBECs after exposure to CSE or nicotine derivatives. This induction of PD‐L1 expression could be diminished by treatment with CHRNA7 small‐interfering RNA, and the relevant signaling was mediated via STAT3 phos-phorylation and NRF2 expression. In summary, this study demonstrated that the well‐known nicotine derivative‐activated nAChRα7 could induce STAT3/NRF2 pathways and subsequently promote PD‐L1 expression in normal lung epithelial cells. This information provides mechanistic insight into cigarette smoke‐induced immune evasion in lung epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5345
JournalCancers
Volume13
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

Keywords

  • Bronchial epithelial cells
  • CHRNA7
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lung cancer
  • PD‐L1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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