Cigarette smoking has been shown to affect human immune responses. We have studied Fas/Fas ligand (FasL) expression, which is involved in the cytotoxic activity, immune privilege, and self-tolerance, and other apoptosis-associated molecule expression of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) in healthy subjects with/without cigarette smoking. We found that expression of FasL protein was detected marginally in the fresh PBL and was induced upon mitogen activation in normal individuals without smoking. In contrast, fresh PBL from those with chronic cigarette smoking exhibited enhanced expression of FasL protein without in vitro mitogen stimulation. Moreover, mitogen stimulation failed to augment FasL protein expression of their lymphocytes, suggesting dysregulation of FasL expression of PBL in individuals with cigarette smoking. In contrast, Fas, Bcl-2, and p53 expression were not significantly different between normal individuals with chronic cigarette smoking and those without smoking. In addition, we found that in vitro brief treatment with nicotine induces and/or enhances FasL mRNA and protein expression of lymphocytes from normal donors without smoking. These results suggest that aberrant FasL expression of lymphocytes is, at least in part, involved in the immune impairment in individuals with chronic cigarette smoking.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.