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Front Physiol. 2013 Jun 12;4:132. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2013.00132. eCollection 2013.

Modeling the influence of vitamin D deficiency on cigarette smoke-induced emphysema.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Lebanon, NH, USA ; Veteran's Administration Research Facility, White River Junction VT, USA.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. While the primary risk factor for COPD is cigarette smoke exposure, vitamin D deficiency has been epidemiologically implicated as a factor in the progressive development of COPD-associated emphysema. Because of difficulties inherent to studies involving multiple risk factors in the progression of COPD in humans, we developed a murine model in which to study the separate and combined effects of vitamin D deficiency and cigarette smoke exposure. During a 16-week period, mice were exposed to one of four conditions, control diet breathing room air (CD-NS), control diet with cigarette smoke exposure (CD-CSE), vitamin D deficient diet breathing room air (VDD-NS) or vitamin D deficient diet with cigarette smoke exposure (VDD-CSE). At the end of the exposure period, the lungs were examined by a pathologist and separately by morphometric analysis. In parallel experiments, mice were anesthetized for pulmonary function testing followed by sacrifice and analysis. Emphysema (determined by an increase in alveolar mean linear intercept length) was more severe in the VDD-CSE mice compared to control animals and animals exposed to VDD or CSE alone. The VDD-CSE and the CD-CSE mice had increased total lung capacity and increased static lung compliance. There was also a significant increase in the matrix metalloproteinase-9: tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) ratio in VDD-CSE mice compared with all controls. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (A1AT) expression was reduced in VDD-CSE mice as well. In summary, vitamin D deficiency, when combined with cigarette smoke exposure, seemed to accelerate the appearance of emphysemas, perhaps by virtue of an increased protease-antiprotease ratio in the combined VDD-CSE animals. These results support the value of our mouse model in the study of COPD.


Teague smoke exposure device; alpha-1 antitrypsin; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; matrix metalloproteinase-9; second hand cigarette smoke; tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1; vitamin D deficiency

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