Tobacco-Related Alterations in Airway Gene Expression are Rapidly Reversed Within Weeks Following Smoking-Cessation

Kahkeshan Hijazi, Bozena Malyszko, Katrina Steiling, Xiaohui Xiao, Gang Liu, Yuriy O. Alekseyev, Yves Martine Dumas, Louise Hertsgaard, Joni Jensen, Dorothy Hatsukami, Daniel R. Brooks, George O’Connor, Jennifer Beane, Marc E. Lenburg, Avrum Spira

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14 Scopus citations


The physiologic response to tobacco smoke can be measured by gene-expression profiling of the airway epithelium. Temporal resolution of kinetics of gene-expression alterations upon smoking-cessation might delineate distinct biological processes that are activated during recovery from tobacco smoke exposure. Using whole genome gene-expression profiling of individuals initiating a smoking-cessation attempt, we sought to characterize the kinetics of gene-expression alterations in response to short-term smoking-cessation in the nasal epithelium. RNA was extracted from the nasal epithelial of active smokers at baseline and at 4, 8, 16, and 24-weeks after smoking-cessation and put onto Gene ST arrays. Gene-expression levels of 119 genes were associated with smoking-cessation (FDR < 0.05, FC ≥1.7) with a majority of the changes occurring by 8-weeks and a subset changing by 4-weeks. Genes down-regulated by 4- and 8-weeks post-smoking-cessation were involved in xenobiotic metabolism and anti-apoptotic functions respectively. These genes were enriched among genes previously found to be induced in smokers and following short-term in vitro exposure of airway epithelial cells to cigarette smoke (FDR < 0.05). Our findings suggest that the nasal epithelium can serve as a minimally-invasive tool to measure the reversible impact of smoking and broadly, may serve to assess the physiological impact of changes in smoking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6978
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

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