Effect of a tobacco-related nitrosamine on intercellular communication in human urothelial cells: a possible factor in smoking-related bladder carcinogenesis.
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Bladder cancer is associated with smoking. Among the tobacco-derived carcinogens suspected of being involved in initiating the disease are nitrosamines found in urine. In this study a nitrosamine found in the urine of smokers was tested using a tissue culture model of normal human urothelium. Explant cultures were established from ureters and exposed to 5 ng/ml of the derivative. This level had been demonstrated previously to induce a variety of changes associated with initiation of carcinogenesis. Proliferation of the cultures was increased following exposure to the carcinogen, and the gap junction intercellular communication was reversibly inhibited. Examination of the connexin 43 protein and message status showed that the mRNA was unaffected, but the protein was not detectable using anti-connexin 43 antibody. The expression of the protein recovered within 24 h of removal of the carcinogen, indicating that the continued presence of the agent was necessary. Given the roles of cell proliferation and cell communication in carcinogenesis, the results may suggest a mechanism involving pre- or post-initiation deregulation of cell communication systems. Whether the enhanced growth is a separate effect or a consequence of reduced communication is an intriguing question.
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