Effects of cigarette smoke on the immune system

Nat Rev Immunol. 2002 May;2(5):372-7. doi: 10.1038/nri803.


Although the health risks of tobacco smoking are well documented, there is increasing evidence that smokers have a lower incidence of some inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Many of the adverse and beneficial effects of smoking might result from the ability of cigarette smoke to suppress the immune system. Nicotine, which is one of the main constituents of cigarette smoke, suppresses the immune system but might have therapeutic potential as a neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Models, Immunological
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Smoking* / adverse effects
  • Tobacco / chemistry


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Nicotine