Smoking in inflammatory bowel disease: impact on disease course and insights into the aetiology of its effect

J Crohns Colitis. 2014 Aug;8(8):717-25. doi: 10.1016/j.crohns.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Mar 11.


The chronic intestinal inflammation that characterises Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis arises from a complex interplay between host genotype, the immune system, and the intestinal microbiota. In addition, environmental factors such as smoking impact on disease onset and progression. Individuals who smoke are more likely to develop Crohn's disease, and smoking is associated with recurrence after surgery and a poor response to medical therapy. Conversely, smoking appears protective against ulcerative colitis and smokers are less likely to require colectomy. The mechanism by which smoking exerts its impact on disease and the rational for the dichotomous effect in patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis is not clear. Recent evidence suggests that smoking induces alterations to both the innate and acquired immune system. In addition, smoking is associated with a distinct alteration in the intestinal microbiota both in patients with active Crohn's disease and healthy subjects.

Keywords: Crohn's disease; Microbiota; Smoking; Ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colitis, Ulcerative / etiology
  • Crohn Disease / etiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology*
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Male
  • Microbiota / drug effects
  • Sex
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution