Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cigarette Smoke Ups Mucus in Lungs - in Pulmonology, Smoking & Tobacco from MedPage Toda

Cigarette smoke suppresses a protein whose normal function is to prevent an overpopulation of mucus-producing cells in the lungs, researchers reported.

Suppression of the so-called Bik protein leads to hyperplasia of airway epithelial cells and mucous cell metaplasia, according to Yohannes Tesfaigzi, PhD, of the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., and colleagues.

The finding could lead to treatments for chronic bronchitis, Tesfaigzi and colleagues reported online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Over-secretion of mucus is a characteristic of chronic bronchitis, which affects many cigarette smokers and is associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Tesfaigzi and colleagues noted.

Normally, mucus secretion increases in the airway epithelium in response to bacteria or viral infectious agents and environmental pollutants. An inflammatory response kickstarts the proliferation of epithelial cells that produce the protective substance.

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