How Does Chronic Cigarette Smoke Exposure Affect Human Skin? A Global Proteomics Study in Primary Human Keratinocytes

OMICS. 2016 Nov;20(11):615-626. doi: 10.1089/omi.2016.0123.


Cigarette smoking has been associated with multiple negative effects on human skin. Long-term physiological effects of cigarette smoke are through chronic and not acute exposure. Molecular alterations due to chronic exposure to cigarette smoke remain unclear. Primary human skin keratinocytes chronically exposed to cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) showed a decreased wound-healing capacity with an increased expression of NRF2 and MMP9. Using quantitative proteomics, we identified 4728 proteins, of which 105 proteins were overexpressed (≥2-fold) and 41 proteins were downregulated (≤2-fold) in primary skin keratinocytes chronically exposed to CSC. We observed an alteration in the expression of several proteins involved in maintenance of epithelial barrier integrity, including keratin 80 (5.3 fold, p value 2.5 × 10-7), cystatin A (3.6-fold, p value 3.2 × 10-3), and periplakin (2.4-fold, p value 1.2 × 10-8). Increased expression of proteins associated with skin hydration, including caspase 14 (2.2-fold, p value 4.7 × 10-2) and filaggrin (3.6-fold, p value 5.4 × 10-7), was also observed. In addition, we report differential expression of several proteins, including adipogenesis regulatory factor (2.5-fold, p value 1.3 × 10-3) and histone H1.0 (2.5-fold, p value 6.3 × 10-3) that have not been reported earlier. Bioinformatics analyses demonstrated that proteins differentially expressed in response to CSC are largely related to oxidative stress, maintenance of skin integrity, and anti-inflammatory responses. Importantly, treatment with vitamin E, a widely used antioxidant, could partially rescue adverse effects of CSC exposure in primary skin keratinocytes. The utility of antioxidant-based new dermatological formulations in delaying or preventing skin aging and oxidative damages caused by chronic cigarette smoke exposure warrants further clinical investigations and multi-omics research.

Keywords: biomarkers; multi-omics; proteomics; stratum corneum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteomics
  • Re-Epithelialization / drug effects
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco / adverse effects*
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use


  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human
  • Proteins
  • Smoke
  • Vitamin E
  • MMP9 protein, human
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9