How smoking makes infection worse

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Science  10 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6231, pp. 197
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6231.197-a

Smoking increases inflammation and worsens infection


Smoking not only increases your risk of cancer but also increases inflammation and slows down recovery from infections, especially in people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). People with severe COPD have elevated levels of the cytokine interleukin-33 (IL-33), a secreted protein that promotes airway inflammation. To determine whether IL-33 triggers exaggerated inflammatory responses in COPD, Kearley et al. exposed mice lacking IL-33 to cigarette smoke and then infected them with influenza. A deficiency in IL-33 protected mice from excessive inflammation and weight loss. Cigarette smoke led to elevated production of IL-33 and altered expression of its receptor in exposed mice, causing lung inflammation to amplify.

Immunity 42, 566 (2015).

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