Cigarette smoke modulates expression of human rhinovirus-induced airway epithelial host defense genes

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40762. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040762. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


Human rhinovirus (HRV) infections trigger acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. The human airway epithelial cell is the primary site of HRV infection and responds to infection with altered expression of multiple genes, the products of which could regulate the outcome to infection. Cigarette smoking aggravates asthma symptoms, and is also the predominant risk factor for the development and progression of COPD. We, therefore, examined whether cigarette smoke extract (CSE) modulates viral responses by altering HRV-induced epithelial gene expression. Primary cultures of human bronchial epithelial cells were exposed to medium alone, CSE alone, purified HRV-16 alone or to HRV-16+ CSE. After 24 h, supernatants were collected and total cellular RNA was isolated. Gene array analysis was performed to examine mRNA expression. Additional experiments, using real-time RT-PCR, ELISA and/or western blotting, validated altered expression of selected gene products. CSE and HRV-16 each induced groups of genes that were largely independent of each other. When compared to gene expression in response to CSE alone, cells treated with HRV+CSE showed no obvious differences in CSE-induced gene expression. By contrast, compared to gene induction in response to HRV-16 alone, cells exposed to HRV+CSE showed marked suppression of expression of a number of HRV-induced genes associated with various functions, including antiviral defenses, inflammation, viral signaling and airway remodeling. These changes were not associated with altered expression of type I or type III interferons. Thus, CSE alters epithelial responses to HRV infection in a manner that may negatively impact antiviral and host defense outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • Bronchi / pathology*
  • Chemokines / genetics
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells / virology*
  • Female
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Interferons / genetics
  • Interferons / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Picornaviridae Infections / genetics*
  • Picornaviridae Infections / immunology
  • Picornaviridae Infections / virology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rhinovirus / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Chemokines
  • Interferons