Role of non-neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in angiogenesis (Short Survey)

Hugo Arias, Victoria Richards, David Ng, Mary E. Ghafoori, Vanique Le, S.A. Mousa

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Angiogenesis is a critical physiological process for cell survival and development. Endothelial cells, necessary for the course of angiogenesis, express several non-neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs). The most important functional non-neuronal AChRs are homomeric α7 AChRs and several heteromeric AChRs formed by a combination of α3, α5, β2, and β4 subunits, including α3β4-containing AChRs. In endothelial cells, α7 AChR stimulation indirectly triggers the activation of the integrin αvβ3 receptor and an intracellular MAP kinase (ERK) pathway that mediates angiogenesis. Non-selective cholinergic agonists such as nicotine have been shown to induce angiogenesis, enhancing tumor progression. Moreover, α7 AChR selective antagonists such as α-bungarotoxin and methyllycaconitine as well as the non-specific antagonist mecamylamine have been shown to inhibit endothelial cell proliferation and ultimately blood vessel formation. Exploitation of such pharmacologic properties can lead to the discovery of new specific cholinergic antagonists as anti-cancer therapies. Conversely, the pro-angiogenic effect elicited by specific agonists can be used to treat diseases that respond to revascularization such as diabetic ischemia and atherosclerosis, as well as to accelerate wound healing. In this mini-review we discuss the pharmacological evidence supporting the importance of non-neuronal AChRs in angiogenesis. We also explore potential intracellular mechanisms by which α7 AChR activation mediates this vital cellular process. © 2009.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1441
Number of pages1451
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009


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