Effects of cigarette smoke on the immune system


Although the health risks of tobacco smoking are well documented, there is increasing evidence that smokers have a lower incidence of some inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Many of the adverse and beneficial effects of smoking might result from the ability of cigarette smoke to suppress the immune system. Nicotine, which is one of the main constituents of cigarette smoke, suppresses the immune system but might have therapeutic potential as a neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agent.

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Figure 1: Rates of cigarette smoking among high-school students according to grade and sex during 1993, 1995 and 1997.
Figure 2: Simplified schematic of the mechanism by which cigarette smoke might cause COPD.
Figure 3: A simplified schematic of possible communication between the CNS and the immune system through nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.


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I would like to acknowledge the National Institutes of Health, the Lovelace Medical Foundation and the United States Army Medical Research for supporting my studies.

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