Smoking Causes Genetic Changes

"Healthy smokers" and patients with COPD have similar genes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not simply a smoker's cough or bronchitis. It is a chronic, under-diagnosed and life-threatening lung disease.

Previous studies have shown that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients have a changed gene expression that causes and starts development of the disease.

The gene expression in the lungs of people who smoke is altered and eventually can lead to COPD.  A new study result shows the gene expression profile in patients with COPD is the same as "healthy smokers".

"Quit smoking to protect your lungs."

Ricardo Bastos, lead author of the study and a researcher at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) reports that  the smokers who haven't yet developed COPD experience similar gene expression changes as those seen in smokers who have developed COPD. 

Bastos explained that the objective of the study was to analyze the expression of a range of genes in the pulmonary tissue samples of patients with COPD.  It wasn't a requirement that the patients with COPD were smokers. The researchers also analyzed the gene expression from patients who had undergone operations for lung cancer, and patients who had lung transplants.

The Study

  • Using the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, the scientists analyzed the expression of 42 genes related with processes such as tissue and vascular inflammation and change
  • Previous data already existed on the involvement of some of the proteins that code these genes in causing and developing the disease
  • The authors then compared the expression profile of these genes between patients with moderate and severe COPD,  'healthy' smokers with normal lung function, and non-smokers
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 10, 2011
Last Updated:
May 11, 2011