Epidemiologic studies have shown that most cases of lung cancers (85%–90%) are directly attributable to cigarette smoking. Although much information has been gained about the effects of cigarette smoking on various signaling pathways causing lung cancer, nothing is known about the effect of cigarette smoking on the TGF-β–induced tumor suppressor function in lung cancer. To address this issue, lung adenocarcinoma A549 and immortalized bronchial epithelial HPL1A cells were chronically treated with cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) and dimethyl sulfoxide (as a control) to mimic the conditions of long-term cigarette smoking. Prolonged exposure of these cells to CSC resulted in a decrease in Smad3 and Smad4 complex formation and TGF-β–mediated transcription due to reduced expression of Smad3. Long-term CSC treatment reduced apoptosis, increased cell viability, decreased TGF-β–mediated growth inhibition, and enhanced tumorigenicity. The decrease in apoptosis is due to the upregulation of Bcl-2, which is a downstream target of Smad3. Re-expression of Smad3 in the CSC-treated cells restored TGF-β signaling, increased apoptosis, and decreased cell viability and tumorigenicity. Withdrawal of CSC treatment resulted in the restoration of Smad3 expression, reduction in cell viability, and increased TGF-β–mediated growth inhibition. Expression of Smad3 is lower in lung tumors of current smokers than that observed in never-smokers. Collectively, these data provide evidence that cigarette smoking promotes tumorigenicity partly by abrogating TGF-β–mediated growth inhibition and apoptosis by reducing expression of Smad3. Cancer Prev Res; 5(3); 453–63. ©2012 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Prevention Research Online (http://cancerprevres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received June 17, 2011.
- Revision received December 7, 2011.
- Accepted December 12, 2011.
- ©2012 American Association for Cancer Research.