Quitting smoking can reverse asthma-inducing changes in lungs

Dec 07, 2009

Asthmatic smokers may be able to reverse some of the damage to their lungs that exacerbates asthmatic symptoms just by putting down their cigarettes, according to research out of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

The research is published in the December 15 issue of the American Thoracic Society's .

"We found that exposure to cigarette smoke appears to increase the thickness of the epithelium, or lining, of the airways in the lung. This may be the underlying cause of the fact that smoking asthma patients experience more asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath and phlegm production, compared to non-smoking asthma patients," said Martine Broekema, Ph.D., the lead author of the study.

Dr. Broekema and colleagues examined patients with asthma who were assessed each for the severity of their asthma and allergy, given questionnaires to determine the extent of their smoke-induced symptoms, and then underwent bronchial biopsies. Of the total of 147 patients, 66 never smoked, 46 were ex-smokers and 35 were current smokers.

In addition to the changes in the epithelial thickness, Dr. Broekema found distinct differences between the current smokers and the ex- and non-smokers. "In addition to the epithelial thickening, we found that negatively affects levels of exhaled nitric oxide, making it an unreliable indicator of asthma severity in smokers," she said.

Current smokers also had more mucous-producing goblet cells in their epithelium and, the epithelial cell layer contained more mucus protein overall, when compared to never-smoking asthmatics. "These pathological findings were associated with the severity of phlegm production reported by the patients, suggesting a causal relationship between the two. Smoking asthmatics also showed a distinct inflammatory profile in their lungs compared to never-smoking asthmatics, with a lower number of eosinophils and higher number of mast cells," said Dr. Broekema. "Furthermore, our data suggest that smoking cessation can reverse the thickening of the lining of the airways."

To determine the role of exposure length on asthmatic lungs, the scientists divided the ex-smokers into two groups: those with fewer than the median 3.4 pack-year exposure and those with more than 3.4 pack-years.

Interestingly, while they expected to find evidence of a dose-response effect between smoking and epithelial remodeling, no such association was apparent between the number of pack-years or duration of smoking cessation and epithelial remodeling.

"To our surprise, these two sub-groups of ex-smokers showed no difference in any outcome measure. These sub-analyses indicate that the amount of smoke exposure in the past does not influence our outcome measures," said Dr. Broekema. "This study shows again how important is for pulmonary health, and this appears to be especially true for asthmatic patients. The good news is that quitting appears to have a measurable benefit in these individuals."

Source: American Thoracic Society (news : web)

Explore further: CDC charges Johns Hopkins to lead development of Ebola training module

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New study shows smoking increases risk of psoriasis

Oct 29, 2007

Another disease can be added to the list of smoking-related disorders -- psoriasis. Researchers have found that smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis, heavier smoking increases the risk further, and the risk ...

Avoid the hookah and save your teeth

Nov 08, 2005

Researchers say smoking a hookah is becoming increasingly trendy item in Mediterranean restaurants, cafes and bars -- but it can damage your teeth.

Smoking doesn't make you happy

Mar 06, 2008

If you are planning to ignore the messages of national No Smoking Day on 12th March by claiming that smoking is one of the few pleasures left to you, then recent research from the Peninsula Medical School in the South West ...

New mediator of smoking recruits

Apr 24, 2009

Current research suggests that smoking increases the production of osteopontin in the lungs, which contributes to the development of smoking-related lung disease. The related report by Prasse et al, "Essential role of osteopontin ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments : 0