BACKGROUND: Chronic smoking is the main risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Knowledge on the response to the initial smoke exposures might enhance the understanding of changes due to chronic smoking, since repetitive acute smoke effects may cumulate and lead to irreversible lung damage.
METHODS: We investigated acute effects of smoking on inflammation in 16 healthy intermittent smokers in an open randomised cross-over study. We compared effects of smoking of two cigarettes on inflammatory markers in exhaled air, induced sputum, blood and urine at 0, 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96 and 192 hours and outcomes without smoking. All sputum and blood parameters were log transformed and analysed using a linear mixed effect model.
RESULTS: Significant findings were: Smoking increased exhaled carbon monoxide between 0 and 1 hour, and induced a greater decrease in blood eosinophils and sputum lymphocytes between 0 and 3 hours compared to non-smoking. Compared to non-smoking, smoking induced a greater interleukin-8 release from stimulated blood cells between 0 and 3 hours, and a greater increase in sputum lymphocytes and neutrophils between 3 and 12 hours.
CONCLUSION: We conclude that besides an increase in inflammation, as known from chronic smoking, there is also a suppressive effect of smoking two cigarettes on particular inflammatory parameters.