Early Postnatal Secondhand Smoke Exposure Disrupts Bacterial Clearance and Abolishes Immune Responses in Muco-Obstructive Lung Disease

J Immunol. 2017 Aug 1;199(3):1170-1183. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1700144. Epub 2017 Jun 30.


Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure has been linked to the worsening of ongoing lung diseases. However, whether SHS exposure affects the manifestation and natural history of imminent pediatric muco-obstructive airway diseases such as cystic fibrosis remains unclear. To address these questions, we exposed Scnn1b transgenic (Scnn1b-Tg+) mice to SHS from postnatal day (PND) 3-21 and lung phenotypes were examined at PND22. Although a majority of filtered air (FA)-exposed Scnn1b-Tg+ (FA-Tg+) mice successfully cleared spontaneous bacterial infections by PND22, the SHS-exposed Scnn1b-Tg+ (SHS-Tg+) mice failed to resolve these infections. This defect was associated with suppressed antibacterial defenses, i.e., phagocyte recruitment, IgA secretion, and Muc5b expression. Whereas the FA-Tg+ mice exhibited marked mucus obstruction and Th2 responses, SHS-Tg+ mice displayed a dramatic suppression of these responses. Mechanistically, downregulated expression of IL-33, a stimulator of type II innate lymphoid cells, in lung epithelial cells was associated with suppression of neutrophil recruitment, IgA secretions, Th2 responses, and delayed bacterial clearance in SHS-Tg+ mice. Cessation of SHS exposure for 21 d restored previously suppressed responses, including phagocyte recruitment, IgA secretion, and mucous cell metaplasia. However, in contrast with FA-Tg+ mice, the SHS-Tg+ mice had pronounced epithelial necrosis, alveolar space consolidation, and lymphoid hyperplasia; indicating lagged unfavorable effects of early postnatal SHS exposure in later life. Collectively, our data show that early postnatal SHS exposure reversibly suppresses IL-33 levels in airspaces which, in turn, results in reduced neutrophil recruitment and diminished Th2 response. Our data indicate that household smoking may predispose neonates with muco-obstructive lung disease to bacterial exacerbations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / physiopathology
  • Bacterial Load
  • Cell Movement
  • Cystic Fibrosis / immunology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Epithelial Sodium Channels / deficiency
  • Epithelial Sodium Channels / genetics
  • Epithelial Sodium Channels / metabolism
  • Female
  • Goblet Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology
  • Interleukin-33 / genetics
  • Interleukin-33 / immunology
  • Interleukin-33 / metabolism
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / immunology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mucin-5B
  • Mucus / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / pathology
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Epithelial Sodium Channels
  • Il33 protein, mouse
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Interleukin-33
  • Muc5b protein, mouse
  • Mucin-5B
  • SCNN1B protein, human
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution