Impairment of antimicrobial activity and nitric oxide production in alveolar macrophages from smokers of marijuana and cocaine

J Infect Dis. 2003 Feb 15;187(4):700-4. doi: 10.1086/368370. Epub 2003 Feb 7.


Human alveolar macrophages (AMs) were recovered from the lungs of healthy nonsmokers (NS) or smokers of tobacco (TS), marijuana (MS), or crack cocaine (CS) and challenged in vitro with Staphylococcus aureus. AMs from NS and TS exhibited potent antibacterial activity that correlated with the production of nitric oxide (NO) and induction of NO synthase without the requirement for priming with exogenous cytokines. In contrast, AMs from MS and CS exhibited minimal antibacterial activity and failed to produce NO unless primed with additional cytokines. These results confirm that NO plays a significant role as an effector molecule used by normal human AMs, but this capacity is suppressed in AMs from MS and CS because of a lack of intrinsic cytokine priming.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / blood
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / immunology*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / immunology*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / blood
  • Marijuana Smoking / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Phagocytosis
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Nitric Oxide
  • NOS2 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II