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Video: Scientists Have Found Out Why Smokers Are More Likely To Get Colds
Scientists have found out why smokers are more likely to get colds
A new study by Yale University researchers has revealed a "flaw" in our protection against colds. First of all, smokers are at risk, but the new discovery concerns everyone who is faced with toxic substances in the air. The results of their research show that it is difficult for the body's defenses to simultaneously cope with viruses and other harmful influences.
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A new study by Yale University researchers has revealed a "flaw" in our protection against colds. First of all, smokers are at risk, but the new discovery concerns everyone who is faced with toxic substances in the air. The results of their research, published in the journal Cell Reports, show that it is difficult for the body's defenses to simultaneously cope with viruses and other harmful influences.
Rhinovirus is the main cause of colds and asthma exacerbations. When this virus enters the nose, the epithelial cells in the respiratory tract react and often clear it out of the body before the virus can multiply and cause symptoms. However, in other cases, people who get this virus get sick. And a group of American researchers led by Ellen Foxman has identified why this is happening.
The research team used epithelial cells from the nasal passage and lungs taken from healthy donors. The resulting cells were exposed to rhinovirus. To their surprise, the researchers found a stronger response to the virus in the cells of the nose.
The researchers then deployed a virus tracking mechanism known as RIG-I, both in the cells of the nose and lung cells. They found that both types of cells generate an antiviral response and a protective response to oxidative stress (damage to cells caused by viruses and other inhaled irritants such as cigarette smoke or pollen). In the nasal cells, the antiviral response was stronger, and in the bronchial cells, the response to oxidative stress was stronger.
In further experiments, the research team found that both reaction mechanisms are activated in turn: the defense reaction against oxidative stress turns off the antiviral defense.
The team then exposed the cells of the nose to oxidative stress in the form of cigarette smoke and then to the cold virus, and found that the nasal cells became more susceptible to the virus.
“They survive after exposure to cigarette smoke, but then they cannot fight the virus, which begins to multiply faster,” says Foxman. However, according to Foxman, this is not only a problem for smokers, as non-smokers are exposed to other chemicals in the air they breathe on a daily basis.
According to Foxman, these findings point to a delicate balance between the body's various defense mechanisms.
“The protection system protects the respiratory tract from viruses and harmful substances that enter the respiratory tract. And it works great when faced with just one of these factors. But when it is immediately influenced by two different factors, then it acts on the principle of "either-or"."
“We found that when our airways are trying to cope with one type of stress, they do well, but at the expense of susceptibility to another type of stress - in this case, rhinovirus,” says Foxman.
The study, she said, shows a mechanical link between environmental exposure and susceptibility to the common cold, and may also explain why smokers are more susceptible to rhinovirus infection. The researchers hope their research will lead to the discovery of new strategies for fighting respiratory viruses.