Cigarette smoke increases susceptibility to tuberculosis--evidence from in vivo and in vitro models

J Infect Dis. 2011 May 1;203(9):1240-8. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir009. Epub 2011 Feb 28.


Background: Cigarette smoke (CS) exposure is an epidemiological risk factor for tuberculosis, although the biological basis has not been elucidated.

Methods: We exposed C57BL/6 mice to CS for 14 weeks and examined their ability to control an aerosol infection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Erdman.

Results: CS-exposed mice had more M. tuberculosis isolated from the lungs and spleens after 14 and 30 d, compared with control mice. The CS-exposed mice had worse lung lesions and less lung and splenic macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) producing interleukin12 and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α). There were significantly more interleukin 10-producing macrophages and DCs in the spleens of infected CS-exposed mice than in non-CS-exposed controls. CS-exposed mice also showed a diminished influx of interferon γ-producing and TNF-α-producing CD4(+) and CD8(+) effector and memory T cells into the lungs and spleens. There was a trend toward an increased number of viable intracellular M. tuberculosis in macrophages isolated from humans who smoke compared with nonsmokers. THP-1 human macrophages and primary human alveolar macrophages exposed to CS extract, nicotine, or acrolein showed an increased burden of intracellular M. tuberculosis.

Conclusion: CS suppresses the protective immune response to M. tuberculosis in mice, human THP-1 cells, and primary human alveolar macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*