RESEARCH PAPER
Cigarette smoke extract induces differential expression levels of beta-defensin peptides in human alveolar epithelial cells
 
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1
School of Systems Biology, George Mason University, Manassas, USA
 
2
National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, George Mason University, Manassas, USA
 
3
Discovery Hall, George Mason University, Manassas, USA
 
 
Submission date: 2013-02-04
 
 
Acceptance date: 2013-04-12
 
 
Publication date: 2013-04-29
 
 
Corresponding author
Monique L van Hoek   

School of Systems Biology, George Mason University, Manassas, VA, USA
 
 
Tobacco Induced Diseases 2013;11(April):10
 
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Background:
The damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs are well known in terms of cancer risks. Additional molecular changes within the lung tissue can also occur as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke. The human β-defensin (hBD) class of antimicrobial peptides is the focus of our research. In addition to antimicrobial activity, β-defensins also have immunomodulatory functions. Over 30 previously unrecognized β-defensin genes have recently been identified in the human genome, many with yet to be determined functions. We postulated that altered β-defensin production may play a role in the pathogenesis observed in the lungs of smokers. Our hypothesis is that cigarette smoke exposure will affect the expression of β-defensins in human lung alveolar epithelial cells (A549).

Methods:
We exposed A549 cells to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) and measured the changes in mRNA levels of several antimicrobial peptides by quantitative real-time PCR, and directly observed peptide expression in cells by immunofluorescence (IF) microscopy.

Results:
We found that hBD3, hBD5, and hBD9 gene expression was upregulated in A549 cells exposed to CSE. HBD1, hBD8, hBD18 and LL-37 gene expression did not significantly change upon exposure to CSE. Expression of hBD3 and hBD4 peptides was visualized by IF.

Conclusions:
This differential expression suggests that hBD3, hBD5, and hBD9 may play a role in the changes to the lung tissue observed in smokers. Establishing differential β-defensin expression following CSE treatment will add to our understanding of the molecular response of the lung alveolar epithelium to cigarette smoke exposure.

 
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