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Nicotine Can Spur New Blood Vessel Growth

The chemical mobilizes endothelial progenitor cells in animals

MONDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Nicotine can stimulate the growth of endothelial progenitor cells in bone marrow, and can induce capillary growth in ischemic tissue, according to the results of a mouse study published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and colleagues administered nicotine to mice that had induced unilateral hind leg ischemia. The investigators found it increased the density of the capillaries in that area. Systemic delivery of nicotine produced a 76 percent increase in capillary density versus 45 percent for local delivery compared with vehicle control.

While there were rare instances of ischemia-induced incorporation of endothelial progenitor cells in capillaries in the control group, this increased fivefold when the mice were administered systemic nicotine. Nicotine also increased the number of endothelial progenitor cells in the bone marrow and spleen.

"Administration of nicotine increased markers of endothelial progenitor cell mobilization. This study indicates that the known angiogenic effect of nicotine may be mediated in part by mobilization of precursor cells," the authors conclude.

In an accompanying editorial, Angelo Avogaro, M.D., Ph.D. and Gian Paolo Fadini, M.D., of the University of Padova in Italy, comment that there are still unanswered questions, such as why nicotine did not stimulate mobilization of endothelial progenitor cells except in the presence of acute ischemia.

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