Epidemiologic data suggest that smoking increases the risk and the severity of Crohn's disease (CD), although it may protect patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). To investigate this paradox, we evaluated the effect of cigarette smoke in the function of blood mononuclear cells from healthy subjects and patients with CD or UC in flare up.
The production of mediators associated with inflammation but also with protective functions was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and enzyme immunoassay (EIA), following either in vivo or in vitro exposure to cigarette smoke.
We found that mononuclear cells from smokers with CD were functionally impaired. These cells secreted lower levels of chemokines and cytokines as compared with nonsmoker counterparts, whereas healthy smokers or smokers with UC were not affected. Similar findings were noted after in vitro exposure to cigarette smoke extract. In addition, cells from patients with CD who smoke presented a defective sensitivity to antiinflammatory or antioxidant protection, and particularly synthesized lower levels of cytoprotective Hsp70. The effects observed were not due to diminished cell viability. Our experiments suggest that cigarette smoke-related responses were largely dependent on oxidative stress generated, and not on the nicotine component.
Overall, our data point out the presence of biological differences between blood mononuclear cells from patients with CD and UC toward cigarette smoke that might support its opposite role in both diseases. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2012;)