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Nicotine and vascular dysfunction

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Acta Physiologica

Published online on


["Acta Physiologica, Volume 231, Issue 4, April 2021. ", "\nAbstract\nCigarette smoking is the single most important risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). However, the role of nicotine, the addictive component of all tobacco products, in the development of CVD is incompletely understood. Although increased public awareness of the harms of cigarette smoking has successfully led to a decline in its prevalence, the use of electronic cigarettes (e‐cig) or electronic nicotine delivery system has increased dramatically in recent years because of the perception that these products are safe. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the expression and function of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the cardiovascular system and the impact of nicotine exposure on cardiovascular health, with a focus on nicotine‐induced vascular dysfunction. Nicotine alters vasoreactivity through endothelium‐dependent and/or endothelium‐independent mechanisms, leading to clinical manifestations in both cigarette smokers and e‐cig users. In addition, nicotine induces vascular remodelling through its effects on proliferation, migration and matrix production of both vascular endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells. The purpose of this review is to identify critical knowledge gaps regarding the effects of nicotine on the vasculature and to stimulate continued nicotine research.\n"]