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1.  Comparison of Proteomic and Transcriptomic Profiles in the Bronchial Airway Epithelium of Current and Never Smokers 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5043.
Although prior studies have demonstrated a smoking-induced field of molecular injury throughout the lung and airway, the impact of smoking on the airway epithelial proteome and its relationship to smoking-related changes in the airway transcriptome are unclear.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Airway epithelial cells were obtained from never (n = 5) and current (n = 5) smokers by brushing the mainstem bronchus. Proteins were separated by one dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (1D-PAGE). After in-gel digestion, tryptic peptides were processed via liquid chromatography/ tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and proteins identified. RNA from the same samples was hybridized to HG-U133A microarrays. Protein detection was compared to RNA expression in the current study and a previously published airway dataset. The functional properties of many of the 197 proteins detected in a majority of never smokers were similar to those observed in the never smoker airway transcriptome. LC-MS/MS identified 23 proteins that differed between never and current smokers. Western blotting confirmed the smoking-related changes of PLUNC, P4HB1, and uteroglobin protein levels. Many of the proteins differentially detected between never and current smokers were also altered at the level of gene expression in this cohort and the prior airway transcriptome study. There was a strong association between protein detection and expression of its corresponding transcript within the same sample, with 86% of the proteins detected by LC-MS/MS having a detectable corresponding probeset by microarray in the same sample. Forty-one proteins identified by LC-MS/MS lacked detectable expression of a corresponding transcript and were detected in ≤5% of airway samples from a previously published dataset.
1D-PAGE coupled with LC-MS/MS effectively profiled the airway epithelium proteome and identified proteins expressed at different levels as a result of cigarette smoke exposure. While there was a strong correlation between protein and transcript detection within the same sample, we also identified proteins whose corresponding transcripts were not detected by microarray. This noninvasive approach to proteomic profiling of airway epithelium may provide additional insights into the field of injury induced by tobacco exposure.
PMCID: PMC2664466  PMID: 19357784
2.  Upregulation of pirin expression by chronic cigarette smoking is associated with bronchial epithelial cell apoptosis 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):10.
Cigarette smoke disrupts the protective barrier established by the airway epithelium through direct damage to the epithelial cells, leading to cell death. Since the morphology of the airway epithelium of smokers does not typically demonstrate necrosis, the most likely mechanism for epithelial cell death in response to cigarette smoke is apoptosis. We hypothesized that cigarette smoke directly up-regulates expression of apoptotic genes, which could play a role in airway epithelial apoptosis.
Microarray analysis of airway epithelium obtained by bronchoscopy on matched cohorts of 13 phenotypically normal smokers and 9 non-smokers was used to identify specific genes modulated by smoking that were associated with apoptosis. Among the up-regulated apoptotic genes was pirin (3.1-fold, p < 0.002), an iron-binding nuclear protein and transcription cofactor. In vitro studies using human bronchial cells exposed to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) and an adenovirus vector encoding the pirin cDNA (AdPirin) were performed to test the direct effect of cigarette smoke on pirin expression and the effect of pirin expression on apoptosis.
Quantitative TaqMan RT-PCR confirmed a 2-fold increase in pirin expression in the airway epithelium of smokers compared to non-smokers (p < 0.02). CSE applied to primary human bronchial epithelial cell cultures demonstrated that pirin mRNA levels increase in a time-and concentration-dependent manner (p < 0.03, all conditions compared to controls).
Overexpression of pirin, using the vector AdPirin, in human bronchial epithelial cells was associated with an increase in the number of apoptotic cells assessed by both TUNEL assay (5-fold, p < 0.01) and ELISA for cytoplasmic nucleosomes (19.3-fold, p < 0.01) compared to control adenovirus vector.
These observations suggest that up-regulation of pirin may represent one mechanism by which cigarette smoke induces apoptosis in the airway epithelium, an observation that has implications for the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke-induced diseases.
PMCID: PMC1805431  PMID: 17288615
3.  In vitro systems toxicology approach to investigate the effects of repeated cigarette smoke exposure on human buccal and gingival organotypic epithelial tissue cultures 
Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods  2014;24(7):470-487.
Smoking has been associated with diseases of the lung, pulmonary airways and oral cavity. Cytologic, genomic and transcriptomic changes in oral mucosa correlate with oral pre-neoplasia, cancer and inflammation (e.g. periodontitis). Alteration of smoking-related gene expression changes in oral epithelial cells is similar to that in bronchial and nasal epithelial cells. Using a systems toxicology approach, we have previously assessed the impact of cigarette smoke (CS) seen as perturbations of biological processes in human nasal and bronchial organotypic epithelial culture models. Here, we report our further assessment using in vitro human oral organotypic epithelium models. We exposed the buccal and gingival organotypic epithelial tissue cultures to CS at the air–liquid interface. CS exposure was associated with increased secretion of inflammatory mediators, induction of cytochrome P450s activity and overall weak toxicity in both tissues. Using microarray technology, gene-set analysis and a novel computational modeling approach leveraging causal biological network models, we identified CS impact on xenobiotic metabolism-related pathways accompanied by a more subtle alteration in inflammatory processes. Gene-set analysis further indicated that the CS-induced pathways in the in vitro buccal tissue models resembled those in the in vivo buccal biopsies of smokers from a published dataset. These findings support the translatability of systems responses from in vitro to in vivo and demonstrate the applicability of oral organotypical tissue models for an impact assessment of CS on various tissues exposed during smoking, as well as for impact assessment of reduced-risk products.
PMCID: PMC4219813  PMID: 25046638
Air–liquid interface; causal biological network model; oral keratinocytes; organotypic cultures; transcriptomics
4.  Characterizing the Impact of Smoking and Lung Cancer on the Airway Transcriptome Using RNA-Seq 
Cigarette smoke creates a molecular field of injury in epithelial cells that line the respiratory tract. We hypothesized that transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) will enhance our understanding of the field of molecular injury in response to tobacco smoke exposure and lung cancer pathogenesis by identifying gene expression differences not interrogated or accurately measured by microarrays. We sequenced the high-molecular-weight fraction of total RNA (>200 nt) from pooled bronchial airway epithelial cell brushings (n = 3 patients per pool) obtained during bronchoscopy from healthy never smoker (NS) and current smoker (S) volunteers and smokers with (C) and without (NC) lung cancer undergoing lung nodule resection surgery. RNA-Seq libraries were prepared using 2 distinct approaches, one capable of capturing non-polyadenylated RNA (the prototype NuGEN Ovation RNA-Seq protocol) and the other designed to measure only polyadenylated RNA (the standard Illumina mRNA-Seq protocol) followed by sequencing generating approximately 29 million 36 nt reads per pool and approximately 22 million 75 nt paired-end reads per pool, respectively. The NuGEN protocol captured additional transcripts not detected by the Illumina protocol at the expense of reduced coverage of polyadenylated transcripts, while longer read lengths and a paired-end sequencing strategy significantly improved the number of reads that could be aligned to the genome. The aligned reads derived from the two complementary protocols were used to define the compendium of genes expressed in the airway epithelium (n = 20,573 genes). Pathways related to the metabolism of xenobiotics by cytochrome P450, retinol metabolism, and oxidoreductase activity were enriched among genes differentially expressed in smokers, whereas chemokine signaling pathways, cytokine–cytokine receptor interactions, and cell adhesion molecules were enriched among genes differentially expressed in smokers with lung cancer. There was a significant correlation between the RNA-Seq gene expression data and Affymetrix microarray data generated from the same samples (P < 0.001); however, the RNA-Seq data detected additional smoking- and cancer-related transcripts whose expression was were either not interrogated by or was not found to be significantly altered when using microarrays, including smoking-related changes in the inflammatory genes S100A8 and S100A9 and cancer-related changes in MUC5AC and secretoglobin (SCGB3A1). Quantitative real-time PCR confirmed differential expression of select genes and non-coding RNAs within individual samples. These results demonstrate that transcriptome sequencing has the potential to provide new insights into the biology of the airway field of injury associated with smoking and lung cancer. The measurement of both coding and non-coding transcripts by RNA-Seq has the potential to help elucidate mechanisms of response to tobacco smoke and to identify additional biomarkers of lung cancer risk and novel targets for chemoprevention.
PMCID: PMC3694393  PMID: 21636547
5.  SIRT1 pathway dysregulation in the smoke-exposed airway epithelium and lung tumor tissue 
Cancer research  2012;72(22):5702-5711.
Cigarette smoke produces a molecular “field of injury” in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract. However, the specific signaling pathways that are altered in the airway of smokers and the signaling processes responsible for the transition from smoking-induced airway damage to lung cancer remain unknown. In this study, we use a genomic approach to study the signaling processes associated with tobacco smoke exposure and lung cancer. First, we developed and validated pathway-specific gene expression signatures in bronchial airway epithelium that reflect activation of signaling pathways relevant to tobacco-exposure including ATM, BCL2, GPX1, NOS2, IKBKB, and SIRT1. Using these profiles and four independent gene expression datasets, we found that SIRT1 activity is significantly up-regulated in cytologically normal bronchial airway epithelial cells from active smokers compared to non-smokers. In contrast, this activity is strikingly down-regulated in non-small cell lung cancer. This pattern of signaling modulation was unique to SIRT1, and down-regulation of SIRT1 activity is confined to tumors from smokers. Decreased activity of SIRT1 was validated using genomic analyses of mouse models of lung cancer and biochemical testing of SIRT1 activity in patient lung tumors. Together, our findings indicate a role of SIRT1 in response to smoke and a potential role in repressing lung cancer. Further, our findings suggest that the airway gene-expression signatures derived in this study can provide novel insights into signaling pathways altered in the “field of inury” induced by tobacco smoke and thus may impact strategies for prevention of tobacco-related lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4053174  PMID: 22986747
6.  Cytotoxic T cells expressing the co-stimulatory receptor NKG2 D are increased in cigarette smoking and COPD 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):128.
A suggested role for T cells in COPD pathogenesis is based on associations between increased lung cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CD8+) numbers and airflow limitation. CD69 is an early T cell activation marker. Natural Killer cell group 2 D (NKG2D) receptors are co-stimulatory molecules induced on CD8+ T cells upon activation. The activating function of NKG2 D is triggered by binding to MHC class 1 chain-related (MIC) molecules A and B, expressed on surface of stressed epithelial cells. The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression of MIC A and B in the bronchial epithelium and NKG2 D and CD69 on BAL lymphocytes in subjects with COPD, compared to smokers with normal lung function and healthy never-smokers.
Bronchoscopy with airway lavages and endobronchial mucosal biopsy sampling was performed in 35 patients with COPD, 21 healthy never-smokers and 16 smokers with normal lung function. Biopsies were immunohistochemically stained and BAL lymphocyte subsets were determined using flow cytometry.
Epithelial CD3+ lymphocytes in bronchial biopsies were increased in both smokers with normal lung function and in COPD patients, compared to never-smokers. Epithelial CD8+ lymphocyte numbers were higher in the COPD group compared to never-smoking controls. Among gated CD3+cells in BAL, the percentage of CD8+ NKG2D+ cells was enhanced in patients with COPD and smokers with normal lung function, compared to never-smokers. The percentage of CD8+ CD69+ cells and cell surface expression of CD69 were enhanced in patients with COPD and smokers with normal lung function, compared to never-smokers. No changes in the expression of MIC A or MIC B in the airway epithelium could be detected between the groups, whereas significantly decreased soluble MICB was detected in bronchial wash from smokers with normal lung function, compared to never-smokers.
In COPD, we found increased numbers of cytotoxic T cells in both bronchial epithelium and airway lumen. Further, the proportions of CD69- and NKG2D-expressing cytotoxic T cells in BAL fluid were enhanced in both subjects with COPD and smokers with normal lung function and increased expression of CD69 was found on CD8+ cells, indicating the cigarette smoke exposure-induced expansion of activated cytotoxic T cells, which potentially can respond to stressed epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2955660  PMID: 20863413
7.  Reversible and permanent effects of tobacco smoke exposure on airway epithelial gene expression 
Genome Biology  2007;8(9):R201.
Oligonucleotide microarray analysis revealed 175 genes that are differentially expressed in large airway epithelial cells of people who currently smoke compared with those who never smoked, with 28 classified as irreversible, 6 as slowly reversible, and 139 as rapidly reversible.
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the US. The risk of dying from smoking-related diseases remains elevated for former smokers years after quitting. The identification of irreversible effects of tobacco smoke on airway gene expression may provide insights into the causes of this elevated risk.
Using oligonucleotide microarrays, we measured gene expression in large airway epithelial cells obtained via bronchoscopy from never, current, and former smokers (n = 104). Linear models identified 175 genes differentially expressed between current and never smokers, and classified these as irreversible (n = 28), slowly reversible (n = 6), or rapidly reversible (n = 139) based on their expression in former smokers. A greater percentage of irreversible and slowly reversible genes were down-regulated by smoking, suggesting possible mechanisms for persistent changes, such as allelic loss at 16q13. Similarities with airway epithelium gene expression changes caused by other environmental exposures suggest that common mechanisms are involved in the response to tobacco smoke. Finally, using irreversible genes, we built a biomarker of ever exposure to tobacco smoke capable of classifying an independent set of former and current smokers with 81% and 100% accuracy, respectively.
We have categorized smoking-related changes in airway gene expression by their degree of reversibility upon smoking cessation. Our findings provide insights into the mechanisms leading to reversible and persistent effects of tobacco smoke that may explain former smokers increased risk for developing tobacco-induced lung disease and provide novel targets for chemoprophylaxis. Airway gene expression may also serve as a sensitive biomarker to identify individuals with past exposure to tobacco smoke.
PMCID: PMC2375039  PMID: 17894889
8.  Whole Exome Re-Sequencing Implicates CCDC38 and Cilia Structure and Function in Resistance to Smoking Related Airflow Obstruction 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004314.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality and, whilst smoking remains the single most important risk factor, COPD risk is heritable. Of 26 independent genomic regions showing association with lung function in genome-wide association studies, eleven have been reported to show association with airflow obstruction. Although the main risk factor for COPD is smoking, some individuals are observed to have a high forced expired volume in 1 second (FEV1) despite many years of heavy smoking. We hypothesised that these “resistant smokers” may harbour variants which protect against lung function decline caused by smoking and provide insight into the genetic determinants of lung health. We undertook whole exome re-sequencing of 100 heavy smokers who had healthy lung function given their age, sex, height and smoking history and applied three complementary approaches to explore the genetic architecture of smoking resistance. Firstly, we identified novel functional variants in the “resistant smokers” and looked for enrichment of these novel variants within biological pathways. Secondly, we undertook association testing of all exonic variants individually with two independent control sets. Thirdly, we undertook gene-based association testing of all exonic variants. Our strongest signal of association with smoking resistance for a non-synonymous SNP was for rs10859974 (P = 2.34×10−4) in CCDC38, a gene which has previously been reported to show association with FEV1/FVC, and we demonstrate moderate expression of CCDC38 in bronchial epithelial cells. We identified an enrichment of novel putatively functional variants in genes related to cilia structure and function in resistant smokers. Ciliary function abnormalities are known to be associated with both smoking and reduced mucociliary clearance in patients with COPD. We suggest that genetic influences on the development or function of cilia in the bronchial epithelium may affect growth of cilia or the extent of damage caused by tobacco smoke.
Author Summary
Very large genome-wide association studies in general population cohorts have successfully identified at least 26 genes or gene regions associated with lung function and a number of these also show association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, these findings explain a small proportion of the heritability of lung function. Although the main risk factor for COPD is smoking, some individuals have normal or good lung function despite many years of heavy smoking. We hypothesised that studying these individuals might tell us more about the genetics of lung health. Re-sequencing of exomes, where all of the variation in the protein-coding portion of the genome can be measured, is a recent approach for the study of low frequency and rare variants. We undertook re-sequencing of the exomes of “resistant smokers” and used publicly available exome data for comparisons. Our findings implicate CCDC38, a gene which has previously shown association with lung function in the general population, and genes involved in cilia structure and lung function as having a role in resistance to smoking.
PMCID: PMC4006731  PMID: 24786987
9.  Cigarette Smoking Induces Overexpression of a Fat Depleting Gene AZGP1 in the Human Airway Epithelium* 
Chest  2009;135(5):1197-1208.
Smokers weigh less and have less body fat than nonsmokers. Increased body fat and weight gain are observed following smoking cessation. To assess a possible molecular mechanism underlying the inverse association between smoking and body weight, we hypothesized that smoking may induce the expression of a fat depleting gene in the airway epithelium, the cell population that takes the brunt of the stress of cigarette smoke.
To assess if smoking up-regulates expression in the airway epithelium of genes associated with weight loss, microarray analysis was used to evaluate genes associated with fat-depletion in large airway epithelial samples obtained by fiberoptic bronchoscopy from normal smokers and normal nonsmokers. As a candidate gene we further evaluated the expression of alpha2-zinc-glycoprotein1 (AZGP1), a soluble protein that stimulates lipolysis, induces a reduction in body fat in mice, is associated with the cachexia related to cancer, and is known to be expressed in secretory cells of lung epithelium. AZGP1 protein expression was assessed by Western analysis and localization in the large airway epithelium by immunohistochemistry.
Both microarray and TaqMan analysis demonstrated that AZGP1 mRNA levels were higher in the large airway epithelium of normal smokers compared to normal nonsmokers (p<0.05, all comparisons). Western analysis of airway biopsies of smokers compared with non-smokers demonstrated upregulation of AZGP1 at the protein level, and immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated upregulation of AZGP1 in secretory as well as neuroendocrine cells of smokers.
In the context that AZGP1 is involved in lipolysis and fat loss, its overexpression in the airway epithelium of chronic smokers may represent one mechanism for the weight difference in smokers vs nonsmokers.
PMCID: PMC2679098  PMID: 19188554
AZGP1; smoking; weight loss; airway epithelium; gene expression
10.  Genetic Variation and Antioxidant Response Gene Expression in the Bronchial Airway Epithelium of Smokers at Risk for Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e11934.
Prior microarray studies of smokers at high risk for lung cancer have demonstrated that heterogeneity in bronchial airway epithelial cell gene expression response to smoking can serve as an early diagnostic biomarker for lung cancer. As a first step in applying functional genomic analysis to population studies, we have examined the relationship between gene expression variation and genetic variation in a central molecular pathway (NRF2-mediated antioxidant response) associated with smoking exposure and lung cancer. We assessed global gene expression in histologically normal airway epithelial cells obtained at bronchoscopy from smokers who developed lung cancer (SC, n = 20), smokers without lung cancer (SNC, n = 24), and never smokers (NS, n = 8). Functional enrichment analysis showed that the NRF2-mediated, antioxidant response element (ARE)-regulated genes, were significantly lower in SC, when compared with expression levels in SNC. Importantly, we found that the expression of MAFG (a binding partner of NRF2) was correlated with the expression of ARE genes, suggesting MAFG levels may limit target gene induction. Bioinformatically we identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in putative ARE genes and to test the impact of genetic variation, we genotyped these putative regulatory SNPs and other tag SNPs in selected NRF2 pathway genes. Sequencing MAFG locus, we identified 30 novel SNPs and two were associated with either gene expression or lung cancer status among smokers. This work demonstrates an analysis approach that integrates bioinformatics pathway and transcription factor binding site analysis with genotype, gene expression and disease status to identify SNPs that may be associated with individual differences in gene expression and/or cancer status in smokers. These polymorphisms might ultimately contribute to lung cancer risk via their effect on the airway gene expression response to tobacco-smoke exposure.
PMCID: PMC2914741  PMID: 20689807
11.  The Epithelial Cell in Lung Health and Emphysema Pathogenesis 
Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of the irreversible lung disease emphysema. Historically, inflammatory cells such as macrophages and neutrophils have been studied for their role in emphysema pathology. However, recent studies indicate that the lung epithelium is an active participant in emphysema pathogenesis and plays a critical role in the lung’s response to cigarette smoke. Tobacco smoke increases protease production and alters cytokine expression in isolated epithelial cells, suggesting that these cells respond potently even in the absence of a complete inflammatory program. Tobacco smoke also acts as an immunosuppressant, reducing the defense function of airway epithelial cells and enhancing colonization of the lower airways. Thus, the paradigm that emphysema is strictly an inflammatory-cell based disease is shifting to consider the involvement of resident epithelial cells. Here we review the role of epithelial cells in lung development and emphysema. To better understand tobacco-epithelial interactions we performed microarray analyses of RNA from human airway epithelial cells exposed to smoke extract for 24 hours. These studies identified differential regulation of 425 genes involved in diverse biological processes, such as apoptosis, immune function, cell cycle, signal transduction, proliferation, and antioxidants. Some of these genes, including VEGF, glutathione peroxidase, IL-13 receptor, and cytochrome P450, have been previously reported to be altered in the lungs of smokers. Others, such as pirin, cathepsin L, STAT1, and BMP2, are shown here for the first time to have a potential role in smoke-associated injury. These data broaden our understanding of the importance of epithelial cells in lung health and cigarette smoke-induced emphysema.
PMCID: PMC2721228  PMID: 19662102
Epithelium; cytokine; inflammation; tobacco; microarray; apoptosis; alveolar; development; vitamins; antioxidants
Inhalation toxicology  2009;21(10):875-881.
The ciliated epithelium of the respiratory airways is one of the first vital systemic surfaces in contact with the ambient air. Ex vivo nasal epithelial ciliary beat frequency (CBF) at room temperature is on the order of 7–8 Hz but may be stimulated by irritant exposure. The upregulation of CBF in response to acute irritant exposure is generally considered to be a transient event with eventual return to baseline. However, studies of CBF dynamics in response to typical lifestyle exposures are limited. This study assessed nasal epithelial CBF among human subjects as a function of quantifiable lifestyle tobacco smoke exposure. Nasal epithelial biopsies were obtained from human subjects with well documented histories of tobacco smoke exposure. CBF was determined using a digital photometric technique and concurrent assays of nasal nitric oxide and urine cotinine and creatinine were performed. Mean CBF among active smokers and non-smokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) was elevated over non-smokers. Although there were dramatic differences in relative levels of tobacco smoke exposure, CBF values among tobacco smoke-exposed groups were comparable. Parallel in vitro studies of cultured nasal epithelium exposed to cigarette smoke condensate further supported these observations. These studies suggest that persistent elevation in nasal epithelial CBF is an early, subtle, physiologic effect associated with lifestyle tobacco smoke exposure. The molecular mechanisms that upregulate CBF may also create a cell molecular milieu capable of provoking the eventual emergence of more overt adverse health effects and the pathogenesis of chronic airway disease.
PMCID: PMC2721908  PMID: 19555226
13.  Comparison of Nasal Epithelial Smoking-Induced Gene Expression on Affymetrix Exon 1.0 and Gene 1.0 ST Arrays 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:951416.
We have previously defined the impact of tobacco smoking on nasal epithelium gene expression using Affymetrix Exon 1.0 ST arrays. In this paper, we compared the performance of the Affymetrix GeneChip Human Gene 1.0 ST array with the Human Exon 1.0 ST array for detecting nasal smoking-related gene expression changes. RNA collected from the nasal epithelium of five current smokers and five never smokers was hybridized to both arrays. While the intersample correlation within each array platform was relatively higher in the Gene array than that in the Exon array, the majority of the genes most changed by smoking were tightly correlated between platforms. Although neither array dataset was powered to detect differentially expressed genes (DEGs) at a false discovery rate (FDR) <0.05, we identified more DEGs than expected by chance using the Gene ST array. These findings suggest that while both platforms show a high degree of correlation for detecting smoking-induced differential gene expression changes, the Gene ST array may be a more cost-effective platform in a clinical setting for gene-level genomewide expression profiling and an effective tool for exploring the host response to cigarette smoking and other inhaled toxins.
PMCID: PMC3588192  PMID: 23476154
14.  Prolonged cigarette smoke exposure alters mitochondrial structure and function in airway epithelial cells 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):97.
Cigarette smoking is the major risk factor for COPD, leading to chronic airway inflammation. We hypothesized that cigarette smoke induces structural and functional changes of airway epithelial mitochondria, with important implications for lung inflammation and COPD pathogenesis.
We studied changes in mitochondrial morphology and in expression of markers for mitochondrial capacity, damage/biogenesis and fission/fusion in the human bronchial epithelial cell line BEAS-2B upon 6-months from ex-smoking COPD GOLD stage IV patients to age-matched smoking and never-smoking controls.
We observed that long-term CSE exposure induces robust changes in mitochondrial structure, including fragmentation, branching and quantity of cristae. The majority of these changes were persistent upon CSE depletion. Furthermore, long-term CSE exposure significantly increased the expression of specific fission/fusion markers (Fis1, Mfn1, Mfn2, Drp1 and Opa1), oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) proteins (Complex II, III and V), and oxidative stress (Mn-SOD) markers. These changes were accompanied by increased levels of the pro-inflammatory mediators IL-6, IL-8, and IL-1β. Importantly, COPD primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBECs) displayed similar changes in mitochondrial morphology as observed in long-term CSE-exposure BEAS-2B cells. Moreover, expression of specific OXPHOS proteins was higher in PBECs from COPD patients than control smokers, as was the expression of mitochondrial stress marker PINK1.
The observed mitochondrial changes in COPD epithelium are potentially the consequence of long-term exposure to cigarette smoke, leading to impaired mitochondrial function and may play a role in the pathogenesis of COPD.
PMCID: PMC3852998  PMID: 24088173
Mitochondria; Primary bronchial epithelial cells; Smoking; Reactive oxygen species; COPD
15.  Cigarette Smoke Induces Systemic Defects in Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Function 
Rationale: Several extrapulmonary disorders have been linked to cigarette smoking. Smoking is reported to cause cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) dysfunction in the airway, and is also associated with pancreatitis, male infertility, and cachexia, features characteristic of cystic fibrosis and suggestive of an etiological role for CFTR.
Objectives: To study the effect of cigarette smoke on extrapulmonary CFTR function.
Methods: Demographics, spirometry, exercise tolerance, symptom questionnaires, CFTR genetics, and sweat chloride analysis were obtained in smokers with and without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CFTR activity was measured by nasal potential difference in mice and by Ussing chamber electrophysiology in vitro. Serum acrolein levels were estimated with mass spectroscopy.
Measurements and Main Results: Healthy smokers (29.45 ± 13.90 mEq), smokers with COPD (31.89 ± 13.9 mEq), and former smokers with COPD (25.07 ± 10.92 mEq) had elevated sweat chloride levels compared with normal control subjects (14.5 ± 7.77 mEq), indicating reduced CFTR activity in a nonrespiratory organ. Intestinal current measurements also demonstrated a 65% decrease in CFTR function in smokers compared with never smokers. CFTR activity was decreased by 68% in normal human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to plasma from smokers, suggesting that one or more circulating agents could confer CFTR dysfunction. Cigarette smoke–exposed mice had decreased CFTR activity in intestinal epithelium (84.3 and 45%, after 5 and 17 wk, respectively). Acrolein, a component of cigarette smoke, was higher in smokers, blocked CFTR by inhibiting channel gating, and was attenuated by antioxidant N-acetylcysteine, a known scavenger of acrolein.
Conclusions: Smoking causes systemic CFTR dysfunction. Acrolein present in cigarette smoke mediates CFTR defects in extrapulmonary tissues in smokers.
PMCID: PMC3919073  PMID: 24040746
cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator; cigarette smoking; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; acrolein
16.  Effects of Cigarette Smoke on the Human Oral Mucosal Transcriptome 
Use of tobacco is responsible for approximately 30% of all cancer-related deaths in the United States including cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract. In the current study, 40 current and 40 age- and gender-matched never smokers underwent buccal biopsies to evaluate the effects of smoking on the transcriptome. Microarray analyses were carried out using Affymetrix HGU 133 Plus2 arrays. Smoking altered the expression of numerous genes: 32 genes showed increased expression and 9 genes showed reduced expression in the oral mucosa of smokers vs. never smokers. Increases were found in genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism, oxidant stress, eicosanoid synthesis, nicotine signaling and cell adhesion. Increased numbers of Langerhans cells were found in the oral mucosa of smokers. Interestingly, smoking caused greater induction of aldo-keto reductases, enzymes linked to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon induced genotoxicity, in the oral mucosa of women than men. Striking similarities in expression changes were found in oral compared to the bronchial mucosa. The observed changes in gene expression were compared to known chemical signatures using the Connectivity Map database, and suggested that geldanamycin, an Hsp90 inhibitor, might be an anti-mimetic of tobacco smoke. Consistent with this prediction, geldanamycin caused dose-dependent suppression of tobacco smoke extract-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 in vitro. Collectively, these results provide new insights into the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke, support the potential use of oral epithelium as a surrogate tissue in future lung cancer chemoprevention trials and illustrate the potential of computational biology to identify chemopreventive agents.
PMCID: PMC2833216  PMID: 20179299
tobacco; smoking; microarray; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; heat shock protein 90
17.  Bronchus associated lymphoid tissue (BALT) in human lung: its distribution in smokers and non-smokers. 
Thorax  1993;48(11):1130-1134.
BACKGROUND--Bronchus associated lymphoid tissue (BALT) is a normal component of the lung's immune system in many animals and may be analogous to gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). This study aimed at assessing the nature and extent of BALT in human lung and determining whether its expression is induced within the human airway in response to smoking. METHODS--Paraffin embedded, formalin fixed full thickness bronchial wall sections were examined from 31 whole lung specimens derived from both smokers and non-smokers. Samples were taken from throughout the bronchial tree to include main stem bronchi, lobar bronchi and segmental bronchi, as well as first to third generation carinae. Standard 4 microns step sections were stained by haematoxylin and eosin and immunocytochemical methods to show foci of BALT. RESULTS--Examination of 256 airway sites detected 46 foci of BALT. These differed from those described in other mammals in being distributed throughout the bronchial tree, in being found in relation to bronchial glandular epithelium as well as luminal bronchial epithelium, and in lacking any accompanying M cells. Analysis by smoking status showed that the expression of BALT was significantly more common in smokers than non-smokers (82% (14/17) v 14% (2/14) respectively). CONCLUSIONS--The findings support the view that BALT in humans is an integral feature in a comparatively small proportion of lungs from non-smokers while being significantly more prominent in lungs from smokers. The tissue shows several important differences from that described in other mammals.
PMCID: PMC464898  PMID: 8296257
18.  Epithelial expression of TLR4 is modulated in COPD and by steroids, salmeterol and cigarette smoke 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):84.
The toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a key component of host defense in the respiratory epithelium. Cigarette smoking is associated with increased susceptibility to infection, while COPD is characterised by bacterial colonisation and infective exacerbations. We found reduced TLR4 gene expression in the nasal epithelium of smokers compared with non-smoking controls, while TLR2 expression was unchanged. Severe COPD was associated with reduced TLR4 expression compared to less severe disease, with good correlation between nasal and tracheal expression. We went on to examine the effect of potential modulators of TLR4 expression in respiratory epithelium pertinent to airways disease. Using an airway epithelial cell line, we found a dose-dependent downregulation in TLR4 mRNA and protein expression by stimulation with cigarette smoke extracts. Treatment with the corticosteroids fluticasone and dexamethasone resulted in a dose-dependent reduction in TLR4 mRNA and protein. The functional significance of this effect was demonstrated by impaired IL-8 and HBD2 induction in response to LPS. Stimulation with salmeterol (10-6 M) caused upregulation of TLR4 membrane protein presentation with no upregulation of mRNA, suggesting a post-translational effect. The effect of dexamethasone and salmeterol in combination was additive, with downregulation of TLR4 gene expression, and no change in membrane receptor expression. Modulation of TLR4 in respiratory epithelium may have important implications for airway inflammation and infection in response to inhaled pathogens.
PMCID: PMC2194695  PMID: 18034897
19.  Smoking-Induced CXCL14 Expression in the Human Airway Epithelium Links Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease to Lung Cancer 
CXCL14, a recently described epithelial cytokine, plays putative multiple roles in inflammation and carcinogenesis. In the context that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are both smoking-related disorders associated with airway epithelial disorder and inflammation, we hypothesized that the airway epithelium responds to cigarette smoking with altered CXCL14 gene expression, contributing to the disease-relevant phenotype. Using genome-wide microarrays with subsequent immunohistochemical analysis, the data demonstrate that the expression of CXCL14 is up-regulated in the airway epithelium of healthy smokers and further increased in COPD smokers, especially within hyperplastic/metaplastic lesions, in association with multiple genes relevant to epithelial structural integrity and cancer. In vitro experiments revealed that the expression of CXCL14 is induced in the differentiated airway epithelium by cigarette smoke extract, and that epidermal growth factor mediates CXCL14 up-regulation in the airway epithelium through its effects on the basal stem/progenitor cell population. Analyses of two independent lung cancer cohorts revealed a dramatic up-regulation of CXCL14 expression in adenocarcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma. High expression of the COPD-associated CXCL14-correlating cluster of genes was linked in lung adenocarcinoma with poor survival. These data suggest that the smoking-induced expression of CXCL14 in the airway epithelium represents a novel potential molecular link between smoking-associated airway epithelial injury, COPD, and lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3824052  PMID: 23597004
CXCL14; airway epithelium; smoking; COPD; lung cancer
20.  Expression of ErbB receptors and mucins in the airways of long term current smokers 
Thorax  2004;59(12):1032-1040.
Background: Airway epithelial goblet cell hyperplasia is known to occur in chronic smokers. Although the epidermal growth factor receptor has been implicated in this process, neither ErbB receptor expression nor the mucosecretory phenotype of the epithelium have been characterised in current smokers.
Methods: Bronchial biopsies obtained from non-smokers (n = 10) and current smokers, with or without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 51), were examined immunohistochemically to measure the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor, ErbB2, ErbB3, ErbB4 and mucin subtypes (MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC5B) in the bronchial epithelium. The results were correlated with neutrophil counts measured in the airway wall and induced sputum.
Results: Epidermal growth factor receptor, ErbB3 and MUC5AC expression, in addition to PAS staining, were significantly increased in all smokers compared with non-smokers, irrespective of the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. MUC5AC expression was significantly associated with both PAS staining and ErbB3 expression; no correlation was observed between either mucin or ErbB receptor expression and neutrophil counts.
Conclusions: The results suggest that long term current smoking induces enhanced epidermal growth factor receptor, ErbB3, and MUC5AC expression in vivo; these increases are not associated with the presence of neutrophilic inflammation. ErbB receptors may contribute to epithelial responses to cigarette smoke.
PMCID: PMC1746902  PMID: 15563701
21.  Gastrin-releasing peptide receptor expression in non-cancerous bronchial epithelia is associated with lung cancer: a case-control study 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):9.
Normal bronchial tissue expression of GRPR, which encodes the gastrin-releasing peptide receptor, has been previously reported by us to be associated with lung cancer risk in 78 subjects, especially in females. We sought to define the contribution of GRPR expression in bronchial epithelia to lung cancer risk in a larger case-control study where adjustments could be made for tobacco exposure and sex.
We evaluated GRPR mRNA levels in histologically normal bronchial epithelial cells from 224 lung cancer patients and 107 surgical cancer-free controls. Associations with lung cancer were tested using logistic regression models.
Bronchial GRPR expression was significantly associated with lung cancer (OR = 4.76; 95% CI = 2.32-9.77) in a multivariable logistic regression (MLR) model adjusted for age, sex, smoking status and pulmonary function. MLR analysis stratified by smoking status indicated that ORs were higher in never and former smokers (OR = 7.74; 95% CI = 2.96-20.25) compared to active smokers (OR = 1.69; 95% CI = 0.46-6.33). GRPR expression did not differ by subject sex, and lung cancer risk associated with GRPR expression was not modified by sex.
GRPR expression in non-cancerous bronchial epithelium was significantly associated with the presence of lung cancer in never and former smokers. The association in never and former smokers was found in males and females. Association with lung cancer did not differ by sex in any smoking group.
PMCID: PMC3305653  PMID: 22296774
Gastrin-releasing peptide receptor; lung cancer risk; case-control study; surrogate tissue
22.  Relation between smoking history and gene expression profiles in lung adenocarcinomas 
BMC Medical Genomics  2012;5:22.
Lung cancer is the worldwide leading cause of death from cancer. Tobacco usage is the major pathogenic factor, but all lung cancers are not attributable to smoking. Specifically, lung cancer in never-smokers has been suggested to represent a distinct disease entity compared to lung cancer arising in smokers due to differences in etiology, natural history and response to specific treatment regimes. However, the genetic aberrations that differ between smokers and never-smokers’ lung carcinomas remain to a large extent unclear.
Unsupervised gene expression analysis of 39 primary lung adenocarcinomas was performed using Illumina HT-12 microarrays. Results from unsupervised analysis were validated in six external adenocarcinoma data sets (n=687), and six data sets comprising normal airway epithelial or normal lung tissue specimens (n=467). Supervised gene expression analysis between smokers and never-smokers were performed in seven adenocarcinoma data sets, and results validated in the six normal data sets.
Initial unsupervised analysis of 39 adenocarcinomas identified two subgroups of which one harbored all never-smokers. A generated gene expression signature could subsequently identify never-smokers with 79-100% sensitivity in external adenocarcinoma data sets and with 76-88% sensitivity in the normal materials. A notable fraction of current/former smokers were grouped with never-smokers. Intriguingly, supervised analysis of never-smokers versus smokers in seven adenocarcinoma data sets generated similar results. Overlap in classification between the two approaches was high, indicating that both approaches identify a common set of samples from current/former smokers as potential never-smokers. The gene signature from unsupervised analysis included several genes implicated in lung tumorigenesis, immune-response associated pathways, genes previously associated with smoking, as well as marker genes for alveolar type II pneumocytes, while the best classifier from supervised analysis comprised genes strongly associated with proliferation, but also genes previously associated with smoking.
Based on gene expression profiling, we demonstrate that never-smokers can be identified with high sensitivity in both tumor material and normal airway epithelial specimens. Our results indicate that tumors arising in never-smokers, together with a subset of tumors from smokers, represent a distinct entity of lung adenocarcinomas. Taken together, these analyses provide further insight into the transcriptional patterns occurring in lung adenocarcinoma stratified by smoking history.
PMCID: PMC3447685  PMID: 22676229
Lung cancer; Smoking; Gene expression analysis; Adenocarcinoma; EGFR; Never-smokers; Immune response
23.  Expression of protease activated receptor-2 (PAR-2) in central airways of smokers and non-smokers 
Thorax  2002;57(2):146-151.
Background: Protease activated receptor-2 (PAR-2) is a transmembrane G protein coupled receptor preferentially activated by trypsin and tryptase. The protease activated receptors play an important role in most components of injury responses including cell proliferation, migration, matrix remodelling, and inflammation. Cigarette smoking causes an inflammatory process in the central airways, peripheral airways, lung parenchyma, and adventitia of pulmonary arteries.
Methods: To quantify the expression of PAR-2 in the central airways of smokers and non-smokers, surgical specimens obtained from 30 subjects undergoing lung resection for localised pulmonary lesions (24 with a history of cigarette smoking and six non-smoking control subjects) were examined. Central airways were immunostained with an antiserum specific for PAR-2 and PAR-2 expression was quantified using light microscopy and image analysis.
Results: PAR-2 expression was found in bronchial smooth muscle, epithelium, glands, and in the endothelium and smooth muscle of bronchial vessels. PAR-2 expression was similar in the central airways of smokers and non-smokers. When smokers were divided according to the presence of symptoms of chronic bronchitis and chronic airflow limitation, PAR-2 expression was increased in smooth muscle (median 3.8 (interquartile range 2.9–5.8) and 1.4 (1.07–3.4) respectively); glands (33.3 (18.2–43.8) and 16.2 (11.5–22.2), respectively); and bronchial vessels (54.2 (48.7–56.8) and 40.0 (36–40.4), respectively) of smokers with symptoms of chronic bronchitis with normal lung function compared with smokers with chronic airflow limitation (COPD), but the increase was statistically significant (p<0.005) only for bronchial vessels.
Conclusions: PAR-2 is present in bronchial smooth muscle, glands, and bronchial vessels of both smokers and non-smokers. An increased expression of PAR-2 was found in bronchial vessels of patients with bronchitis compared with those with COPD.
PMCID: PMC1746249  PMID: 11828045
24.  Decreased Expression of Intelectin 1 in the Human Airway Epithelium of Smokers Compared to Nonsmokers* 
Lectins are innate immune defense proteins that recognize specific bacterial cell wall components. Based on the knowledge that cigarette smoking is associated with increased risk of bacterial infections, we hypothesized that cigarette smoking may modulate the expression of lectin genes in airway epithelium. Affymetrix microarrays were used to survey expression of lectin genes in large airway epithelium from 9 nonsmokers and 20 healthy smokers and in small airway epithelium from 13 nonsmokers and 20 healthy smokers. There were no changes (>2-fold change, p<0.05) in lectin gene expression among healthy smokers compared to nonsmokers except for a striking down regulation of intelectin 1, a lectin that binds to galactofuranosyl residues in the cell walls of bacteria (large airway epithelium, p<0.01; small airway epithelium, p<0.01). This was confirmed by TaqMan RT-PCR in both large (p<0.05) and small airway epithelium (p<0.02). Immunohistochemistry assessment of airway biopsies demonstrated that intelectin 1 was expressed in secretory cells, while Western analysis confirmed the decreased expression of intelectin 1 in airway epithelium of healthy smokers compared to healthy nonsmokers (p<0.02). Finally, compared to healthy nonsmokers, intelectin 1 expression was also decreased in small airway epithelium of smokers with lone emphysema with normal spirometry (n= 13, p<0.01) and smokers with established COPD (n= 14, p<0.01). In the context that intelectin 1 is an epithelial molecule that likely plays a role in defense against bacteria, its down regulation in response to cigarette smoking is another example of the immunomodulatory effects of smoking on the immune system and may contribute to the increase in susceptibility to infections observed in smokers, including those with COPD.
PMCID: PMC2651682  PMID: 18832735
25.  Smoking-mediated up-regulation of GAD67 expression in the human airway epithelium 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):150.
The production of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) is dependent on glutamate decarboxylases (GAD65 and GAD67), the enzymes that catalyze the decarboxylation of glutamate to GABA. Based on studies suggesting a role of the airway epithelial GABAergic system in asthma-related mucus overproduction, we hypothesized that cigarette smoking, another disorder associated with increased mucus production, may modulate GABAergic system-related gene expression levels in the airway epithelium.
We assessed expression of the GABAergic system in human airway epithelium obtained using bronchoscopy to sample the epithelium and microarrays to evaluate gene expression. RT-PCR was used to confirm gene expression of GABAergic system gene in large and small airway epithelium from heathy nonsmokers and healthy smokers. The differences in the GABAergic system gene was further confirmed by TaqMan, immunohistochemistry and Western analysis.
The data demonstrate there is a complete GABAergic system expressed in the large and small human airway epithelium, including glutamate decarboxylase, GABA receptors, transporters and catabolism enzymes. Interestingly, of the entire GABAergic system, smoking modified only the expression of GAD67, with marked up-regulation of GAD67 gene expression in both large (4.1-fold increase, p < 0.01) and small airway epithelium of healthy smokers (6.3-fold increase, p < 0.01). At the protein level, Western analysis confirmed the increased expression of GAD67 in airway epithelium of healthy smokers compared to healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.05). There was a significant positive correlation between GAD67 and MUC5AC gene expression in both large and small airway epithelium (p < 0.01), implying a link between GAD67 and mucin overproduction in association with smoking.
In the context that GAD67 is the rate limiting enzyme in GABA synthesis, the correlation of GAD67 gene expression with MUC5AC expressions suggests that the up-regulation of airway epithelium expression of GAD67 may contribute to the increase in mucus production observed in association with cigarette smoking.
Trial registration
NCT00224198; NCT00224185
PMCID: PMC2988726  PMID: 21034448

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