Duration-dependent effects of nicotine exposure on growth and AKT activation in human kidney epithelial cells

Yu Wei Chang, Kamaleshwar P. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Exposure to nicotine is known to cause adverse effects in many target organs including kidney. Epidemiological studies suggest that nicotine-induced kidney diseases are prevalent worldwide. However, the impact of duration of exposure on the nicotine-induced adverse effects in normal kidney cells and the underlying molecular mechanism is still unclear. Hence, the objective of this study was to evaluate both acute and long-term effects of nicotine in normal human kidney epithelial cells (HK-2). Cells were treated with 1 and 10 µM nicotine for acute and long-term duration. The result of cell viability showed that the acute exposure to 1 µM nicotine has no significant effect on growth. However, the 10 µM nicotine caused significant decrease in the growth of HK-2 cells. The long-term exposure resulted in significantly increased cell growth in both 1 and 10 µM nicotine-treated groups. Analysis of cell cycle and expression of marker genes related to proliferation and apoptosis further confirmed the effects of nicotine. Additionally, the analysis of growth signaling pathway revealed the decreased level of pAKT in cells with acute exposure whereas the increased level of pAKT in long-term nicotine-exposed cells. This suggests that nicotine, through modulating the AKT pathway, controls the duration-dependent effects on the growth of HK-2 cells. In summary, this is the first report showing long-duration exposure to nicotine causes increased proliferation of human kidney epithelial cells through activation of AKT pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Kidney cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Nicotine
  • Tobacco smoke


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