Impact of nicotine and cotinine on macrophage inflammatory plasticity via vesicular modifications in gastrointestinal bacteria

Jourdan E. Lakes, Xu Fu, Brock T. Harvey, Khaga R. Neupane, Surya P. Aryal, Jessica L. Ferrell, Michael D. Flythe, Christopher I. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study aimed to elucidate mechanistic explanation(s) for compositional changes to enteric microflora by determining the impacts of continuous nicotine/cotinine exposure on representative gastrointestinal bacteria and how these alterations impact innate immune cell plasticity. Methods: In vitro cultures of the gastrointestinal bacteria (Bacteroides fragilis 25285, Prevotella bryantii B14, and Acetoanaerobium sticklandii SR) were continuously exposed to nicotine or cotinine. Supernatant samples were collected for fermentation acid analysis. Vesicles were collected and analyzed for physiological changes in number, size, and total protein cargo. Cultured macrophages were stimulated to a tolerogenic phenotype, exposed to control or altered (nicotine or cotinine – exposed) vesicles, and inflammatory plasticity assessed via inflammatory cytokine production. Results: Nicotine/cotinine exposure differentially affected metabolism of all bacteria tested in a Gram (nicotine) and concentration-dependent (cotinine) manner. Physiological studies demonstrated changes in vesiculation number and protein cargo following nicotine/cotinine exposures. Continuous exposure to 1 μM nicotine and 10 μM cotinine concentrations reduced total protein cargo of Gram (-) – 25285 and B14 vesicles, while cotinine generally increased total protein in Gram (+) - SR vesicles. We found that theses physiological changes to the vesicles of 25285 and SR formed under nicotine and cotinine, respectively, challenged the plasticity of tolerogenic macrophages. Tolerogenic macrophages exposed to vesicles from 1 μM nicotine, and 5 or 10 μΜ cotinine cultures produced significantly less IL-12p70, TNFα, or KC/GRO, regardless of macrophage exposure to nicotine/cotinine. Conclusions: Nicotine/cotinine exposure differentially alters bacterial metabolism and vesicle physiology, ultimately impacting the inflammatory response of tolerogenic macrophages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102787
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Cytokine response
  • Metabolism
  • Microbiota
  • Nicotine
  • Substance use disorder
  • Vesiculation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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