Researchers assess the cytoprotective activity of nicotine against COVID-19

In a recent study published in the PLoS ONE journal, researchers assessed the cytoprotective activity of nicotine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Study: Nicotine has no significant cytoprotective activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Image Credit: Ekaterina_Minaeva/Shutterstock
Study: Nicotine has no significant cytoprotective activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Image Credit: Ekaterina_Minaeva/Shutterstock

Background

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the many topics of debate is whether individuals who smoke are at a lower or higher risk of contracting a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.

Several studies have reported clinical data. However, there is a controversy regarding the interpretation and collection of the data. Notably, a controversial hypothesis has gained popularity that nicotine could potentially prevent COVID-19.             

About the study

In the present study, the researchers performed cytotoxicity assays to assess the potential cytoprotective activity displayed by nicotine against COVID-19.

The team utilized virus strains including SARS-CoV-2, USA WA 01/2020, and CSU V3 3/17/2020 for this study, and the cell line Vero E6 was employed for the plaque reduction assay. The cytotoxicity assay was performed by testing nicotine at different concentrations such as 0.005, 0.01, 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1, 5, 10 μM. This wide range of concentrations ensured that plasma nicotine levels reported in smokers were also included in the assay. Cytotoxicity was estimated with the alamar blue reagent, while cytoprotection and cell viability were assessed after staining with acridine orange (AO)/ propidium iodide (PI). 

Cytotoxicity tests were performed on the activity of nicotine against SARS-CoV-2 in Vero E6 cells. Cytoprotection was evaluated as cell death in comparison to the live cell count. Cell death was calculated as per the number of cells that were stained with PI while the number of live cells was estimated as per AO staining. Furthermore, the team determined if nicotine was active in the assessed cell growth media and the cell culture condition using 2% Dulbecco's modified eagle medium (DMEM) comprising 2mM L-glutamine by exposing A549 lung cancer cells to nicotine or the vehicle control.   

Results

The study findings showed that none of the nicotine concentrations provided sufficient cytoprotection against COVID-19 in Vero E6 cells. Additionally, compared to the media control sample comprising DMEM, the team found no cytotoxicity in the nicotine treatment.

Notably, nicotine elicited Erk1/2 (extracellular signal‑regulated protein kinase) phosphorylation in A549 cells. This indicated that nicotine showed significant activity in the DMEM cell culture.   

Conclusion

The study findings showed that even in the presence of high concentrations of nicotine, there was no considerable cytoprotective activity induced against COVID-19 while nicotine at 2 μM to 10 μM in the control media displayed normal activity of Erk phosphorylation.

The researchers believe that future studies could determine the activity of nicotine against SARS-CoV-2 in other cell lines. 

Journal reference:
Bhavana Kunkalikar

Written by

Bhavana Kunkalikar

Bhavana Kunkalikar is a medical writer based in Goa, India. Her academic background is in Pharmaceutical sciences and she holds a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy. Her educational background allowed her to foster an interest in anatomical and physiological sciences. Her college project work based on ‘The manifestations and causes of sickle cell anemia’ formed the stepping stone to a life-long fascination with human pathophysiology.

Citations

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Kunkalikar, Bhavana. (2022, August 23). Researchers assess the cytoprotective activity of nicotine against COVID-19. News-Medical. Retrieved on September 30, 2022 from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220823/Researchers-assess-the-cytoprotective-activity-of-nicotine-against-COVID-19.aspx.

  • MLA

    Kunkalikar, Bhavana. "Researchers assess the cytoprotective activity of nicotine against COVID-19". News-Medical. 30 September 2022. <https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220823/Researchers-assess-the-cytoprotective-activity-of-nicotine-against-COVID-19.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Kunkalikar, Bhavana. "Researchers assess the cytoprotective activity of nicotine against COVID-19". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220823/Researchers-assess-the-cytoprotective-activity-of-nicotine-against-COVID-19.aspx. (accessed September 30, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Kunkalikar, Bhavana. 2022. Researchers assess the cytoprotective activity of nicotine against COVID-19. News-Medical, viewed 30 September 2022, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220823/Researchers-assess-the-cytoprotective-activity-of-nicotine-against-COVID-19.aspx.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post
You might also like...
Study describes the dynamics of immune responses to triple COVID-19 vaccination