Cigarette smoke extract acts directly on CD4 T cells to enhance Th1 polarization and reduce memory potential.
Cell Immunol. 2018 Jun 18. Epub 2018 Jun 18. PMID: 29935764
Joanne D Tejero
Although cigarette smoke is known to alter immune responses, whether and how CD4 T cells are affected is not well-described. We aimed to characterize how exposure to cigarette smoke extract impacts CD4 T cell effector generation in vitro under Th1-polarizing conditions. Our results demonstrate that cigarette smoke directly acts on CD4 T cells to impair effector expansion by decreasing division and increasing apoptosis. Furthermore, cigarette smoke enhances Th1-associated cytokine production and increases expression of the transcription factor T-bet, the master regulator of Th1 differentiation. Finally, we show that exposure to cigarette smoke extract during priming impairs the ability of effectors to form memory cells. Our findings thus demonstrate that cigarette smoke simultaneously enhances effector functions but promotes terminal differentiation of CD4 T cell effectors. This study may be relevant to understanding how smoking can both aggravate autoimmune symptoms and reduce vaccine efficacy.