Smokers undergo the same changes in gene expression as patients with COPD

Smokers undergo the same changes in gene expression as patients with COPD. Credit: SINC

'Healthy' smokers experience changes in the gene expression of their lungs similar to that suffered by smokers who have developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This is the conclusion of a new study, led by Catalan researchers, which confirms the crucial role that smoking plays in causing these alterations.

"Our objective was to analyse the expression of a range of genes in the pulmonary of patients with COPD, whether smokers or not, and people who had undergone operations for cancer or lung transplants", Ricardo Bastos, lead author of the study and a researcher at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), tells SINC.

Using the real-time (PCR) technique, the scientists analysed the expression of 42 genes related with processes such as tissue and vascular inflammation and change. Previous data already existed on the involvement of some of the proteins that code these genes in causing and developing the disease.

The authors then compared the expression profile of these genes between patients with moderate and severe COPD, 'healthy' smokers with normal , and non-smokers. The main result of these studies was that the gene expression profile in the patients with moderate COPD was very similar to that of the 'healthy' smokers.

"The 'healthy' smokers experience similar gene expression changes as those seen in smokers who have developed the disease", concludes Bastos. "This once again underlines the decisive role of smoking in causing these changes".

In fact, these two groups have a more similar profile than patients with moderate and severe COPD. Previous laboratory studies have shown that the structural and cellular lung changes (to the airways and ) of 'healthy' smokers are very similar to those in with slight or moderate COPD.

The world's fourth leading cause of death

COPD is characterised by limited air flow, which is progressive and irreversible, caused by an abnormal inflammatory response in the lung, which at advanced stages can lead to the patient's death. All current treatments are merely symptomatic and palliative. Experts insist on the need to develop new therapies to help slow down the progression of the disease.

It is the most common respiratory disease caused by smoking – which is the most important risk factor. It has high prevalence and mortality rates in industrialised and developing countries. Forecasts issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that COPD will become the world's fourth leading cause of death (it is currently the sixth) by 2020.

More information: Laia Llinàs, Víctor I. Peinado, J. Ramón Goñi, Roberto Rabinovich, Sandra Pizarro, Robert Rodríguez-Roisin, Joan Albert Barberà, Ricardo Bastos. "Similar gene expression profiles in smokers and patients with moderate COPD". Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 24: 32e41, Feb 2011. Doi:10.1016/j.pupt.2010.10.010

Provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Smokers' COPD risk is genetic

Mar 11, 2009

It's well known that puffing on cigarettes can eventually leave you out of puff. But why do a quarter of long-term smokers develop serious breathing problems, when others do not? New research published BioMed Central's open ...

Body's defenses may worsen chronic lung diseases in smokers

Feb 09, 2009

Although the immune system is designed to protect the body from harm, it may actually worsen one of the most difficult-to-treat respiratory diseases: chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), according to new University ...

Study: Cigarette smoking does not affect everyone in same way

Jun 04, 2009

Cigarette smoking induced COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a disease that results in severe breathing difficulty. According to World Health Organization (WHO) it is the fourth leading killer worldwide. However ...

Genetic variant may control lung function and risk of COPD

Dec 17, 2009

Researchers have discovered evidence that suggests a genetic variant may be associated with better preserved lung function among children with asthma and adults who smoke, according to a new study funded by the National Heart, ...

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

3 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.