Increased innate and adaptive immune responses in induced sputum of young smokers
Background and objectives
It is known that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) development process is imperceptible and can be asymptomatic for 20 or more years. It is of great importance to diagnose early inflammatory changes that can lead to COPD in young asymptomatic cigarette smokers. The aim of our study was to analyze the cell spectrum of induced sputum (IS) of young cigarette smokers, with emphasis on T-regulatory cells.
Materials and methods
A total of 20 healthy nonallergic smokers, 20 nonsmokers and 20 COPD patients were enrolled in the study. After lung function measurements were taken, we performed sputum induction and analyzed sputum cells. We evaluated the cell count of FOXP3-positive, CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes by immunocytochemistry staining, and the cell count of macrophages and neutrophils by May-Grünwald Giemsa staining.
Induced sputum of smokers contained a higher absolute amount of macrophages and neutrophils when compared to nonsmokers. FOXP3-positive cells in the sputum of young smokers showed a statistically significant increase when compared to nonsmokers. Induced sputum of COPD patients contained an increased absolute amount of neutrophils and FOXP3-positive Treg cells when compared to nonsmokers. Regression analysis showed that the amount of FOXP-3 positive cells, neutrophils and macrophages in the induced sputum was increasing with the number of pack years.
This study demonstrates that young smokers have early inflammatory changes in their airways that not only initiate nonspecific mechanisms recruiting neutrophils, but also involve specific immune mechanisms with recruitment of T regulatory lymphocytes. The lymphocyte response is probably adaptive.
Received 16 March 2014, accepted 8 October 2014.