The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting, being held in Phoenix, Arizona, from February 25 to 28, 2022. Click here to read more of MPR‘s conference coverage.

Airborne toxicants, such as from cigarette smoke and exhaust gases, selectively increase inflammatory cytokine production in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) 2022 Annual Meeting, held in Phoenix, Arizona, February 25 to 28.

In the current study, researchers hypothesized that immune system activation may occur as a result of pulmonary inflammation in genetically predisposed patients who experience prolonged exposure to airborne toxicants. In order to test their theory, the researchers assessed levels of cytokines in supernatants after incubation of leukocytes from patients with COPD and asthma exposed to a solution of cigarette smoke, an extract of cigarette tobacco, and a solution of exhaust gases from an internal combustion engine.

The researchers found that cigarette smoke and the exhaust gases solution caused release of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) by leukocytes in patients with asthma and COPD, but not in healthy controls. In addition, an increased level of IL-1β occurred in patients with asthma, and the cigarette smoke solution increased tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) in COPD patients. Exhaust gases increased transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) in patients and increased levels of interferon gamma (IFNγ) in COPD patients, compared with the control group (P <.05). However, there were no statistically significant changes in the levels of IL-6, IL-2, IL-4, and IL-12, and interferon alpha (IFNα) that occurred with exposure of toxicants to leukocytes of COPD or asthma patients or healthy individuals in the control group.

The researchers concluded, “Airborne toxicants selectively increase inflammatory cytokine production in asthma and COPD patients.”

Visit MPR’s conference section for complete coverage of the AAAAI 2022 Annual Meeting.


Ishchanka A, Shchurok I, Semenova I, DuBuske L. Airborne toxicants induce pro-inflammatory cytokines in both patients with asthma and with COPD. Presented at: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) 2022 Annual Meeting; February 25–28, 2022; Phoenix, AZ. Abstract 039.

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor