Elliot Spindel, M.D., Ph.D.

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Normal lung and lung cancer synthesize and secrete acetylcho line, and express both nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. Multiple GWAS studies have now linked nicotinic receptors to increased risk of lung cancer. The Spindel laboratory focuses on the role of acetylcholine, nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in lung development and lung cancer.

In lung cancer, acetylcholine secreted by lung cancers acts as an autocrine growth factor signaling through both nicotinic and muscarinic receptors and levels of acetylcholine are increased more than 100 fold in squamous cell lung carcinomas. In smokers, nicotine also directly stimulates lung cancer growth by interacting with nicotinic receptors expressed on lung cancer cells. The ability of cholinergic signaling to stimulate lung cancer growth suggests multiple targets to develop new lung cancer therapies. Our lab is actively investigating the potential of nicotinic and muscarinic antagonists to block lung cancer growth as well as characterizing molecular mechanisms by which cholinergic signaling stimulates cancer growth and development. In particular the alpha 3, alpha 5 and alpha7 nicotinic receptors have been linked to lung cancer growth as has the M3 muscarinic receptor. Another area of investigation is the role of the nicotinic receptor modulatory proteins such as lynx1 and lynx2 in lung cancer growth.

The second major focus of the laboratory is to understand the role of nicotinic receptors in normal lung development and develop therapeutic approaches to block the effects of prenatal nicotine exposure on lung development. This is being pursued in clinical studies in conjunction with the OHSU pediatrics and maternal-fetal medicine departments, in studies in monkeys and transgenic mice and by electrophysiology of lung cells. The expression of multiple neurotransmitters by airway epithelium also suggests new targets for developing novel lung therapeutics.

Eliot Spindel also directs the Primate Center Molecular Biology Core. Related to that, the lab is also involved in non-human primate genomics research.

Summary of Current Research

After receiving a B.S. from MIT, Eliot Spindel earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1980 and his Ph.D. in neuroendocrine regulation from MIT in 1982. He then went to Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital for four years of postdoctoral research in molecular endocrinology. In 1986, he was appointed an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he remained until his 1989 appointment to the Oregon National Primate Research Center as a scientist in the Division of Neuroscience and an associate professor of cell and developmental biology and anatomy in the OHSU School of Medicine. Dr. Spindel was promoted to Senior Scientist and Director of the ONPRC Molecular Biology Core in 1995.

Selected Publications

"Vitamin C supplementation for pregnant smoking women and pulmonary function in their newborn infants: A randomized clinical trial," JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol: 311, Issue: 20, Page 2074-2082) - 2014

"Bombesin Peptides," Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides ( Page 326-330) - 2013

"Choline transporter-like protein 4 (CTL4) links to non-neuronal acetylcholine synthesis," Journal of Neurochemistry (Vol: 126, Issue: 4, Page 451-461) - 2013

"Fetal pulmonary arterial vascular impedance reflects changes in fetal oxygenation at near-term gestation in a nonhuman primate model," Reproductive Sciences (Vol: 20, Issue: 1, Page 33-38) - 2013

"Muscarinic receptor agonists and antagonists: Effects on cancer," Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology (Vol: 208, Page 451-468) - 2012



  Email Elliot Spindel

503 494-8311