The in vitro effects of nicotine and selected antibiotics, tunicamycin and thapsigargin on human Breast carcinoma (mcf-7) cells.
Cancer is defined as the abnormal growth of genetically mutated or perturbant cells. Nicotine is a known cancer promoter and an apoptotic suppressor. This alkaloid acts on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors which affects the ubiquitin-proteasome protein degradation pathway and ultimately hinders apoptosis. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an interconnecting organelle which synthesises proteins and its quality control processes ensures the proper protein folding, post-translational modifications and conformation of secretory and trans-membrane proteins. Studies demonstrated that the antibiotic, Tunicamycin (Tm) and the sesquiterpene lactone, Thapsigargin (Tg) causes ER stress and consequently cellular arrest. Tm interferes with N-glycosylation of newly synthesised proteins triggering the unfolded protein response, while Tg inhibits intracellular Ca2+ ATPases resulting in increased cytosolic Ca2+. Studies showed that these compounds have potential pro-apoptotic effects. The combinatorial effects of nicotine, Tm and Tg may produce antagonistic or synergistic effects and provide a therapeutic tool against breast cancer. The aim of the study was to determine the apoptotic effects of nicotine, Tm, and Tg on human breast carcinoma (MCF-7) at various time intervals and further to elucidate whether selected ratios of their combinations resulted in synergistic or antagonistic effects.