Bronchial epithelial cell lines and primary nasal epithelial cells from cystic fibrosis respond differently to cigarette smoke exposure

Mark Williams, F de Courcey, D Comer, JS Elborn, Madeleine Ennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of cigarette smoke extract (CSE) on airway epithelial cells (AECs) from cystic fibrosis (CF) and non-cystic fibrosis (non-CF) individuals are not fully understood. It has been suggested that CSE modulates inflammatory cytokine release from AECs by modulating the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway; these pathways could reveal novel therapeutic targets. We compared the effect of CSE pre-incubation on IL-8 release from CF and non-CF bronchial epithelial cell lines, and separately, with primary nasal epithelial cells (NECs) retrieved from CF and non-CF individuals. We also determined if the EGFR pathway regulates IL-8 release by LPS or cytomix in non-CF and CF AECs at baseline and following CSE exposure.

CF and non-CF cell lines, NECs derived from both CF patients (R117H heterozygous and F508del homozygous), and from healthy subjects, were cultured in the presence or absence of CSE, and subsequently exposed to inflammatory stimuli. In cell lines CSE significantly reduced IL-8 release following inflammatory challenge. Conversely, CSE pre-treatment was pro-inflammatory in primary NECs. In NECs from control subjects, CSE increased cytomix and LPS induced IL-8 release, and for the R117H heterozygous NEC cultures, CSE enhanced basal IL-8 release. Cytomix and LPS induced IL-8 release from F508del homozygous NEC cultures was further heightened following CSE pre-treatment.

EGFR inhibition mitigated IL-8 release from immortalised and primary non-CF and CF AECs, suggesting that constitutive and CSE elicited IL-8 release from AECs is partly regulated via the EGFR pathway.

This study demonstrates the importance of the EGFR cascade in the regulation of constitutive and CSE induced inflammatory mediator release from immortalised and primary AECs. Moreover, it clearly highlights the significance of using primary cells to confirm results obtained from immortalised cell studies, as these model systems may respond very differently to the stimuli under investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cystic Fibrosis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • inflammation
  • cytokine
  • epithelial
  • bronchial


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