Cigarette Smoking-Mediated Macrophage Reprogramming: Mechanistic Insights and Therapeutic Implications

David C. Yang, Ching-Hsien Chen

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Center for Comparative Respiratory Biology and Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA. Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA. 3Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA.


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Macrophages, the mature form of the monocytes, play a significant role in tissue homeostasis and immunity. In response to environmental cues, they can undergo classical or alternative activation, polarizing into specialized functional subsets. A common hallmark of the pathologic environment is represented by cigarette smoking. Although the contribution of cigarette smoke to various cellular processes has been extensively studied, its roles in macrophage polarization have been conflicting. This review discusses the molecular and functional differences of cigarette smoke-exposed macrophages that exist between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory states. We also highlight the most recent advances in therapeutic potential of targeting signaling molecules associated with smoking to modulate macrophage plasticity and polarized activation.

J Nat Sci, 4(11):e539, 2018




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