Nicotine Impairs Macrophage Control ofMycobacterium tuberculosis

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Abstract

Pure nicotine impairs macrophage killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), but it is not known whether the nicotine component in cigarette smoke (CS) plays a role. Moreover, the mechanisms by which nicotine impairs macrophage immunity against MTB have not been explored. To neutralize the effects of nicotine in CS extract, we used a competitive inhibitor to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR)—mecamylamine—as well as macrophages derived from mice with genetic disruption of specific subunits of nAChR. We also determined whether nicotine impaired macrophage autophagy and whether nicotine-exposed T regulatory cells (Tregs) could subvert macrophage anti-MTB immunity. Mecamylamine reduced the CS extract increase in MTB burden by 43%. CS extract increase in MTB was also significantly attenuated in macrophages from mice with genetic disruption of either the α7, β2, or β4 subunit of nAChR. Nicotine inhibited autophagosome formation in MTB-infected THP-1 cells and primary murine alveolar macrophages, as well as increased the intracellular MTB burden. Nicotine increased migration of THP-1 cells, consistent with the increased number of macrophages found in the lungs of smokers. Nicotine induced Tregs to produce transforming growth factor-β. Naive mouse macrophages co-cultured with nicotine-exposed Tregs had significantly greater numbers of viable MTB recovered with increased IL-10 production and urea production, but no difference in secreted nitric oxide as compared with macrophages cocultured with unexposed Tregs. We conclude that nicotine in CS plays an important role in subverting macrophage control of MTB infection.

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