Orally administered nicotine induces urothelial hyperplasia in rats and mice

Puttappa R. Dodmane, Lora L. Arnold, Karen L. Pennington, Samuel M. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for multiple human cancers including urinary bladder carcinoma. Tobacco smoke is a complex mixture containing chemicals that are known carcinogens in humans and/or animals. Aromatic amines a major class of DNA-reactive carcinogens in cigarette smoke, are not present at sufficiently high levels to fully explain the incidence of bladder cancer in cigarette smokers. Other agents in tobacco smoke could be excreted in urine and enhance the carcinogenic process by increasing urothelial cell proliferation. Nicotine is one such major component, as it has been shown to induce cell proliferation in multiple cell types in vitro. However, in vivo evidence specifically for the urothelium is lacking. We previously showed that cigarette smoke induces increased urothelial cell proliferation in mice. In the present study, urothelial proliferative and cytotoxic effects were examined after nicotine treatment in mice and rats. Nicotine hydrogen tartrate was administered in drinking water to rats (52. ppm nicotine) and mice (514. ppm nicotine) for 4 weeks and urothelial changes were evaluated. Histopathologically, 7/10 rats and 4/10 mice showed simple hyperplasia following nicotine treatment compared to none in the controls. Rats had an increased mean BrdU labeling index compared to controls, although it was not statistically significantly elevated in either species. Scanning electron microscopic visualization of the urothelium did not reveal significant cytotoxicity. These findings suggest that oral nicotine administration induced urothelial hyperplasia (increased cell proliferation), possibly due to a mitogenic effect of nicotine and/or its metabolites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2014


  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell proliferation
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Hyperplasia
  • Urothelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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