NOV 01, 2017 10:29 AM PDT

Smoking May Be Giving You Inflammatory Bowel Disease

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Smoking cigarettes is a habit well-known for its association with an increased risk for lung cancer, heart disease, and countless other conditions. Today, you can add one more to the list: inflammatory bowel disease. It may seem farfetched that disease in the lungs can lead to disease in the gut, but a new study from scientists at South Korea’s Kyung Hee University shows that these two regions are more connected than you might realize.

The CDC estimates that 36.5 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes.

Previous findings have shown that smoking increases a person’s risk of Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, but the present study is the first to confirm a direct causative relationship between smoking and intestinal inflammation.

“Crohn's disease is more likely to occur in people with airway diseases, suggesting that inflammation in the lungs is linked with inflammation in the gut,” explained study researcher Hyunsu Bae.

Researchers began their study by exposing groups of mice to cigarette smoke, comparing any observations they made with a control group that was not exposed to smoke. As expected, mice exposed to smoke developed inflammation in the lungs. However, researchers also saw evidence of inflammation in the colon, along with blood in the feces and abnormally high levels of an immune cell called CD4+ T cells, which were also producing the pro-inflammatory protein interferon-gamma.

With the relationship between smoking and intestinal inflammation narrowed down to the involvement of CD4+ T cells and interferon gamma, researchers then asked: How do the effects from smoking reach the gut all the way from the lungs?

They repeated the same experiment except with one group of mice with few CD4+ T cells and one group that was unable to produce interferon-gamma. Neither group developed gut inflammation after smoke exposure, confirming the role of CD4+ T cells in causing gut inflammation after smoking.

Researchers performed one last experiment, again exposing mice to smoke. This time, though, they took from the lungs of the mice their population of CD4+ T cells and injected them into a different group of mice that had never been exposed to smoke. However, these mice developed colitis anyway, confirming that CD4+ T cells are directly responsible for colitis from cigarette smoking.

"Our results suggest that cigarette smoking activates specific white blood cells in the lung, which might later move to the colon, triggering bowel inflammation," explained study researcher Jinju Kim. "Smokers, especially those who also have bowel disease, should reduce their smoking."

Bae, Kim, and others are hoping that elucidating the direct relationship between smoking and inflammatory bowel disease could lead to new treatments and increased awareness among smokers concerning their risk of developing the disease.

 

The present study was published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

 

Source: Frontiers

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 21, 2018
Immunology
SEP 21, 2018
Intrauterine Protection from Allergy Season
Pregnancies during allergy season may provide protection against allergy development in children...
OCT 09, 2018
Immunology
OCT 09, 2018
Allergen Labeling
Are the regulations for packaged foods strong enough? A recent investigation suggests allergens are not properly identified on food packaging...
NOV 07, 2018
Drug Discovery
NOV 07, 2018
Modifying Antibiotics For Drug Resistant Infections
In a study published in Nature Chemistry, researches at MIT were able to create a new chemical reaction that has the ability to modify antibiotics to make ...
NOV 14, 2018
Immunology
NOV 14, 2018
Stress in Youth Can Mean Depression as an Adult
A research team investigates early life stress and its relation to adult depression and anxiety...
NOV 26, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 26, 2018
A New Test for Fibromyalgia
Anyone who has experienced severe, chronic pain knows the long process it takes to get a correct diagnosis. Many people see an average of 5-6 specialists b...
DEC 18, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 18, 2018
Mapping the Human Proteome
Advancing our understanding of human disease often requires a sound understanding of normal human physiology. A critical tool to provide guidance on human...
Loading Comments...