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Stop-smoking

02 September 2010

Lung Damage From Secondhand Smoke Observed in Rats

Findings may aid efforts to develop new ways to treat respiratory diseases in people, researchers say

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"This is much like what a human would be exposed to at a bar or casino," Adelheid Kratzer, an investigator in the pulmonary and critical care division in the department of medicine at the University of Colorado-Denver, said in an American Physiological Society news release.

  • Enlargement in the alveolar air space of the lungs, which suggests the alveolar structure had started to break down, similar to the way it does in early emphysema. The alveoli are tiny sacs where the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange occurs during breathing.
  • Increased numbers of white blood cells called macrophages in the alveolar space, indicating an immune system response.
  • Elevated levels of the cytokine interleukin-18, which is produced by macrophages and is associated with strong inflammatory responses and tissue destruction.
  • Inhibited growth and spread of endothelial cells lining the inside of small blood vessels of the lungs. A decrease in endothelial cells can reduce the elasticity of the blood vessel wall and increase its permeability, which can lead to chronic inflammation that's seen in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

 

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