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Tobacco smoking is reported to enhance telomere shortening in peripheral blood lymphocytes.
However, telomere length of lung resident cells such as alveolar macrophages (AMs) has not been evaluated.
We evaluated effect of tobacco smoking on telomere length in AMs.
AMs were obtained from nine non-smokers (mean age 24.6 years, mean FEV1/FVC 93.8%) and ten healthy
smokers (mean age 25.2 years, >10 pack-years, mean FEV1/FVC 90.6%). We also analyzed tissue macrophages from
eight moderate to severe COPD patients (mean age 68.3 years, >10 pack-years, mean FEV1/FVC 54.2%, mean %pred.
FEV1 48.8%), age-matched nine healthy smokers (mean age 67.1 years, >10 pack- years, mean FEV1/FVC 83.7%, mean
% pred. FEV1 82.4%), and eight healthy non-smokers (mean age 71.2 years, mean FEV1/FVC 84.6%, mean %pred. FEV1
84.1%). Centromere signals and telomere length were analysed using quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization
(QFISH) and confocal microscopy.
Telomere length was reduced in bronchoalveolar lavage macrophages of younger smokers compared with that
observed in healthy non-smoker’s AMs, Importantly, there was no quantitative difference in centromere signals between
smokers and non-smokers. A shorter telomere length was also seen in tissue macrophages from older smokers with or
without COPD compared with non-smokers. However there was no difference in telomere length between healthy
smokers and smokers with COPD.
Tobacco smoking enhances telomere shortening in AMs from patients with and without COPD.