Tobacco smoke exposure suppresses radiation-induced inflammation in the lung: a study of bronchoalveolar lavage and ultrastructural morphology in the rat

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Previous studies on patients with breast cancer, who received postsurgical irradiation, displayed a markedly suppressed inflammatory response in the lung of smoking patients compared to nonsmokers. The aim of the present study was to investigate further the effect of exposure to tobacco smoke on the development of irradiation-induced pneumonitis in the rat. Four groups of animals were used: controls (C); those exposed to tobacco smoke (S); those irradiated but not exposed to smoke (RNS); and those irradiated and exposed to tobacco smoke (RS). The rats were exposed to a diluted main stream of cigarette smoke, at a concentration of about 0.4 mg.l-1, in a nose-only exposure system for 1, 5 days.week-1 for 10 weeks. Exposure to tobacco smoke started 3 weeks before irradiation. The basal one third of both lungs was exposed to a single radiation dose of 28 Gy (6 MeV photons). All animals were killed 7 weeks after irradiation. We compared findings in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and tissue morphology. The alveolar tissue showed less inflammation in the RS-group than in the RNS-group. Most strikingly, mast cells were increased one hundredfold in the lung interstitium and thirty fold in the peribronchial area in the RNS-group, whereas no increase was found in the RS-group or in the controls. The alveolar septa of the RNS-group were thickened, with occurrence of inflammatory cells and mast cells, whereas the RS-group displayed no difference as compared to the non-irradiated, nonsmoking group (C).


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1173-1180
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Publication categoryResearch