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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1990 Mar;141(3):678-82.

Selective increase of antioxidant enzyme activity in the alveolar macrophages from cigarette smokers and smoke-exposed hamsters.

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Pulmonary Division, University of Tennessee, Memphis.


Oxidants from cigarette smoke or those produced by phagocytes are implicated in the pathogenesis of emphysema. We reasoned that augmentation of antioxidant enzymes in cigarette smokers may be important in restricting direct and indirect oxidant damage to alveolar structures. Accordingly, we studied the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx), in alveolar macrophages (AM) from cigarette smokers and from smoke-exposed hamsters. The activities of these antioxidant enzymes were compared with the activities found in AM from nonsmoking control subjects. The activities of SOD and CAT from AM of smokers and smoke-exposed hamsters were twice that found in control subjects (p less than 0.01), but there was no change in the activity of GSHPx. Using the hamster model, we found that filtration of smoke attenuated the increase in antioxidant activities, and that after smoking cessation, the increased activities had returned to those found with control subjects. An adaptive response was further suggested by prolonged survival of smoke-exposed hamsters in normobaric hyperoxia (O2 greater than 95%). Chronic smoke exposure in humans or hamsters causes increased SOD and CAT activities in AM. This augmented activity may serve as a mechanism to limit oxidant-mediated damage to alveolar structures.

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