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Atherosclerosis. 1998 Nov;141(1):133-9.

The influence of acute smoking on leucocytes, platelets and the endothelium.

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University Department of Medicine, City Hospital, Birmingham, UK.


Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis. Possible mechanisms for this include leucocytes and platelet activation, and/or damage to the endothelium, any of which may contribute to changes in thrombosis and haemostasis. We examined the acute effects of smoking on these systems by obtaining blood before, immediately after, and at 10 and 30 min after the rapid smoking of two cigarettes in sequence by 20 smokers. Blood samples taken at the same time points from ten non-smokers acted as control material. In the smokers there was a transient rise in leucocyte count and neutrophil activation, but von Willebrand factor (VWF--marking endothelial damage) increased steadily at each time point (P <0.05). There were no changes in neutrophil elastase, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1 normally increased in smokers), fibrinogen, platelet count or soluble P-selectin (marking platelet activation, also normally increased in smokers). We conclude that the acute smoking of two cigarettes in succession will activate leucocytes and cause endothelial cell damage, but will not immediately influence platelet activity.

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