Radiation-induced increase in hyaluronan and fibronectin in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from breast cancer patients is suppressed by smoking

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Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid was analysed from 21 patients with breast cancer, stage T1N0M0, who had undergone tumour resection and post-operative local irradiation (accumulated dose 56 Gy). The lavage was performed two months after radiotherapy, in the anterior part of the lingula (left side) or of the right middle lobe (right side), depending on which side had been exposed to radiation. The patients had significantly increased concentrations of fibronectin (FN) (p less than 0.001), hyaluronan (HA) (p less than 0.01) and albumin (p less than 0.05) in BAL fluid compared with the healthy controls (n = 19). However, when the patients were separated, according to smoking history, it was obvious that the inflammatory reaction occurred entirely in the nonsmoking patient group (n = 10), whilst no difference could be found between the smoking patients (n = 11) and the controls. In the nonsmoking patient group, there was a sevenfold increase in BAL concentrations of FN and a threefold increase in HA. Moreover, four patients had detectable levels of procollagen III peptide in BAL, all were nonsmokers. The smoking habits of the controls had no influence on the BAL measurements. These findings indicate that smoking interferes with the radiation-induced early inflammatory connective tissue reaction of the lung. Finally, the results justify further investigation of interaction of smoking with cancer treatment, both from the view of therapy effectiveness and reduction of adverse effects.


  • Leif Bjermer
  • R Hallgren
  • K Nilsson
  • L Franzen
  • T Sandström
  • B Sarnstrand
  • R Henriksson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-790
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Publication categoryResearch