Impact of cigarette smoke exposure on host-bacterial pathogen interactions

J. Garmendia, P. Morey, J.A. Bengoechea

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50 Citations (Scopus)


The human respiratory tract of individuals with normal lung function maintains a fine-tuned balance, being asymptomatically colonised by the normal microbiota in the upper airways and sterile in the lower tract. This equilibrium may be disrupted by the exposure to insults such as cigarette smoke. In the respiratory tract, the complex and noxious nature of inhaled cigarette smoke alters host-microorganisminteraction dynamics at all anatomical levels, causing infections in many cases. Moreover, continuous exposure to cigarette smoke itself causes deleterious effects on the host that can trigger the development of chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. COPD is an irreversible airflow obstruction associated with emphysema, fibrosis, mucus hypersecretion and persistent colonisation of the lower airways by opportunistic pathogens. COPD patients keep a stable (without exacerbation) but progressively worsening condition and suffer periodic exacerbations caused, in most cases, by infections. Although smoking and smoking-associated diseases are associated with a high risk of infection, most therapies aim to reduce inflammatory parameters, but do not necessarily take into account the presence of persistent colonisers. The effect of cigarette smoke on host-pathogen interaction dynamics in the respiratory tract, together with current and novel therapies, is discussed. Copyright
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-477
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
Early online date07 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2012

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