Nicotine and biochanin A, but not cigarette smoke, induce anti-inflammatory effects on keratinocytes and endothelial cells in patients with Behçet's disease

J Invest Dermatol. 2007 Jan;127(1):81-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.jid.5700492. Epub 2006 Sep 28.


During periods of smoking, patients with Behçet's disease have less oral aphthae than in abstinence. To elucidate this observation, human keratinocytes and dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1) were incubated with serum of 20 patients with Behçet's disease and 20 healthy controls for 4 hours. Maximum non-toxic concentrations were determined and the cells were further treated with 6 microM nicotine, 3.3% cigarette smoke extract (CES), 100 microM biochanin A, and 6.25/12.5 microM pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate alone and in combinations for 24 hours. Serum IL-8 levels of patients were significantly lower than those of controls. However, after 4 hours incubation with patients' sera, IL-8 release by both cell types was markedly increased when compared with the corresponding serum levels. The levels of IL-6 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) release were after 4 hours similar with the corresponding levels in serum. IL-1 was not detected. Nicotine significantly decreased IL-8 and -6 release by HMEC-1 maintained in both patients' and controls' sera, but only IL-6 release by keratinocytes maintained in patients' sera. VEGF release by both cells was markedly increased after nicotine treatment in either serum. CES significantly decreased IL-8 release and increased production of VEGF in keratinocytes maintained in patients' serum. The phytoestrogen biochanin A alone and in combination with nicotine further decreased the secretion of IL-8, -6, and VEGF in all experimental settings. Our data support a specific anti-inflammatory effect of nicotine on keratinocytes and endothelial cells maintained in the serum of patients with Behçet's disease. Moreover, biochanin A is likely to exhibit similar and even more profound results than nicotine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Behcet Syndrome / blood
  • Behcet Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Genistein / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Proline / analogs & derivatives
  • Proline / pharmacology
  • Smoke*
  • Thiocarbamates / pharmacology
  • Tobacco*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Smoke
  • Thiocarbamates
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • prolinedithiocarbamate
  • Nicotine
  • Proline
  • Genistein
  • biochanin A