Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2008 Jun 18;38(6):655-60. Epub 2008 Jan 18.
Department of Pneumology, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany.
Airway dendritic cells (DCs) control pulmonary immune responses to inhaled particles. However, the profile of function-associated surface molecules on airway DCs in smokers is unknown. In this study, function-associated surface molecules were analyzed using four-color flow cytometry on myeloid DCs (mDCs) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of cigarette smokers and never-smokers. Furthermore, the lung function was assessed directly before bronchoscopy in all participants. There was a 7-fold increase in total cell numbers in BALF of smokers, as compared with never-smokers. The percentage of mDCs among BALF cells and the expression of the maturation marker CD83 on mDCs did not differ between smokers and never-smokers. However, there was a strong increase in the expression of Langerin and CD1a (markers of Langerhans cells) on mDCs of smokers. Furthermore, mDCs of smokers were characterized by an increased expression of antigen presentation markers such as CD80 and CD86. By contrast, mDCs of smokers displayed a decreased expression of the lymph node homing receptor CCR7, as compared with mDCs of never-smokers. Decreased expression of CCR7 on mDCs, but not any of the other surface molecules studied, was specifically associated with airway obstruction and pulmonary hyperinflation in smokers. In conclusion, our data suggest that smoking affects the expression profile of function-associated surface molecules on airway mDCs. We provide the first evidence that a reduced CCR7 expression on airway mDCs is associated with airflow limitation in smokers.