European Respiratory Society


Acute exposure to cigarette smoke causes airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in guinea-pigs, which resolves within a few hours. Repeated exposure may have a different effect on the airways. To address this question, guinea-pigs were repeatedly exposed to cigarette smoke (six cigarettes for 1 h x day(-1)) for 14 consecutive days. Airway responsiveness to inhaled histamine and differential cell counts in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were evaluated 1 day after the last exposure. Significant neutrophilia in BALF was observed after 3 days of smoke exposure. Significant eosinophilia in BALF and AHR were observed after 14 days of smoke exposure, but not after 3 or 7 days of smoke exposure. These changes persisted until 3 days after the last exposure and resolved 7 days afterwards. Histologically, the recruited eosinophils were observed predominantly in the airways, but not in the alveoli. Treatment with E-6123, a specific platelet-activating factor receptor antagonist (1 mg x kg(-1) x day(-1) p.o. during smoke exposure) significantly inhibited the eosinophil influx and AHR. Repeated exposure to cigarette smoke may induce prolonged airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in guinea-pigs. Platelet-activating factor or platelet-activating factor-like lipids may play a key role in airway hyperresponsiveness, presumably by the induction of eosinophilic airway inflammation.