Nicotinic α7 acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR) in human airway smooth muscle

Niyati A. Borkar, Benjamin Roos, Y. S. Prakash, Venkatachalem Sathish, Christina M. Pabelick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diseases such as asthma are exacerbated by inflammation, cigarette smoke and even nicotine delivery devices such as e-cigarettes. However, there is currently little information on how nicotine affects airways, particularly in humans, and changes in the context of inflammation or asthma. Here, a longstanding assumption is that airway smooth muscle (ASM) that is key to bronchoconstriction has muscarinic receptors while nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) are only on airway neurons. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that human ASM expresses α7nAChR and explored its profile in inflammation and asthma using ASM of non-asthmatics vs. mild-moderate asthmatics. mRNA and western analysis showed the α7 subunit is most expressed in ASM cells and further increased in asthmatics and smokers, or by exposure to nicotine, cigarette smoke or pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-13. In these effects, signaling pathways relevant to asthma such as NFκB, AP-1 and CREB are involved. These novel data demonstrate the expression of α7nAChR in human ASM and suggest their potential role in asthma pathophysiology in the context of nicotine exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108897
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
StatePublished - Jul 30 2021


  • Asthma
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Inflammation
  • Nicotinic receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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