Continued smoking is highly associated with not only a higher incidence but also greater risk of tumor recurrence, progression, and acquired chemoresistance of urothelial carcinoma. We investigated whether nicotine affects urothelial carcinoma, and the detailed mechanism by which nicotine could induce tumor growth and any associated chemoresistance. Cell viability was evaluated in the human bladder cancer cell line T24 exposed to nicotine with or without cisplatin (CDDP) and NVP-BEZ235 as a PI3K/mTOR dual inhibitor by the WST-1 assay. Protein expression of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway was investigated by Western blotting or immunohistochemical analysis. The influence of nicotine on tumor growth was also evaluated with or without CDDP and/or NVP-BEZ235 in a subcutaneous bladder tumor model. The result demonstrated that cell proliferation was increased in T24 cells after exposure to nicotine. Phospho-specific Akt (pAkt) and phospho-specific p70 S6 kinase (pS6) were significantly upregulated by nicotine exposure. Tumor growth in vivo was significantly induced by nicotine exposure in accordance with increased pS6 expression. Nicotine attenuated inhibition of T24 cell growth by CDDP and further upregulated pS6 expression in vitro and in vivo. NVP-BZE235 inhibited T24 cell proliferation and pAkt and pS6 expression induced after exposure to nicotine and/or CDDP. In conclusion, nicotine increases tumor growth and induces acquired chemoresistance through activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway in bladder cancer.
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