Water-soluble extracts of cigarette smoke are easily formed in some body compartments, such as saliva or fluid lining alveolar spaces, and can act on both cellular and extracellular compartments. In this paper we have analysed the effect of aqueous smoke extract on some metabolic and functional aspects of polymorphonuclear leukocytes. In particular, the following cellular aspects were studied: chemiluminescence, glycolysis, membrane fluidity and microscopic interaction with zymosan particles. While chemiluminescence and glycolytic activity are highly inhibited, no effect of smoke extract on membrane fluidity was observed. Moreover, the response of luminol-dependent chemiluminescence was significantly delayed, while that of lucigenin-dependent chemiluminescence was anticipated. Furthermore, the phagocytic ability of neutrophils pretreated with aqueous smoke extract was also significantly hindered. All these results might indicate that the finely tuned activity of polymorphonuclear leukocytes is somehow hampered by the aqueous extract of cigarette smoke in a way which makes these cells less effective against bacteria and more noxious towards surrounding tissues.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.