Background: Cigarette smoking inhibits T-cell responses in the lungs, but the immunosuppressive compounds have not been fully identified. Cigarette smoke extracts inhibit IL-2, IFN-γ, and TNF-α production in stimulated lymphocytes obtained from peripheral blood, even when the extracts were diluted 100-fold to 1000-fold. Objective: The objective of these studies was to identify the immunosuppressive compounds found in cigarette smoke. Methods: Gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy and HPLC were used to identify and quantitate volatile compounds found in cigarette smoke extracts. Bioactivity was measured by viability and production of cytokine mRNA and protein levels in treated human lymphocytes. Results: The vapor phase of the cigarette smoke extract inhibited cytokine production, indicating that the immunosuppressive compounds were volatile. Among the volatile compounds identified in cigarette smoke extracts, only the α,β-unsaturated aldehydes, acrolein (inhibitory concentration of 50% [IC50] = 3 μmol/L) and crotonaldehyde (IC50 = 6 μmol/L), exhibited significant inhibition of cytokine production. Although the levels of aldehydes varied 10-fold between high-tar (Camel) and ultralow-tar (Carlton) extracts, even ultralow-tar cigarettes produced sufficient levels of acrolein (34 μmol/L) to suppress cytokine production by >95%. We determined that the cigarette smoke extract inhibited transcription of cytokine genes. The inhibitory effects of acrolein could be blocked with the thiol compound N-acetylcysteine. Conclusion: The vapor phase from cigarette smoke extracts potently suppresses cytokine production. The compound responsible for this inhibition appears to be acrolein. © 2005 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Lambert, C., McCue, J., Portas, M., Ouyang, Y., Li, J. M., Rosano, T. G., … Freed, B. M. (2005). Acrolein in cigarette smoke inhibits T-cell responses. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 116(4), 916–922. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2005.05.046