Mechanisms of respiratory tissue injury from cigarette smoking

  • Kevin McCusker
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Kevin McCusker, M.D., Department of Medicine, Pulmonary Division, University of Utah, 50 N. Medical Drive, Room 4R240, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132.
    Division of Respiratory, Critical Care, and Occupational Pulmonary Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah USA
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      Cigarette smoking can be viewed as a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lower airways. Two of the major lung injuries that can result are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by chronic mucus hypersecretion and cough; emphysema is a destructive process of the alveolar spaces. Tissue injury may result from the actions of degradative enzymes derived from such inflammatory cells as neutrophils and monocytes. In addition, oxidative injury from inflammatory cells and from oxidants in smoke may participate in the pathogenesis of these smoking-related illnesses.
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