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Expression and function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in stem cells

1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Miami; Coral Gables, FL, USA
2 Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC); Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Miami, FL, USA

Topical Section: Stem Cell Research

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are prototypical ligand gated ion channels typically found in muscular and neuronal tissues. Functional nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, however, have also recently been identified on other cell types, including stem cells. Activation of these receptors by the binding of agonists like choline, acetylcholine, or nicotine has been implicated in many cellular changes. In regards to stem cell function, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor activation leads to changes in stem cell proliferation, migration and differentiation potential. In this review we summarize the expression and function of known nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in different classes of stem cells including: pluripotent stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, periodontal ligament derived stem cells, and neural progenitor cells and discuss the potential downstream effects of receptor activation on stem cell function.
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Keywords nicotine; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; nAChR; stem cells; pluripotent stem cells; multipotent stem cells; regeneration potential; differentiation potential

Citation: Carlos M. Carballosa, Jordan M. Greenberg, Herman S. Cheung. Expression and function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in stem cells. AIMS Bioengineering, 2016, 3(3): 245-263. doi: 10.3934/bioeng.2016.3.245

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