Stimulation of hamster pulmonary neuroendocrine cells and associated peptides by repeated exposure to cigarette smoke

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American Review of Respiratory Disease




2 I




Although the normal function of pulmonary neuroendocrine (PNE) cells containing bioactive peptides is poorly understood, various pulmonary diseases are associated with hyperplasia of these cells, and they also may be progenitors for small cell lung cancer in humans. In this study we have investigated the effects of subchronic cigarette smoke exposure in the hamster on the PNE cells and their peptide content. Daily exposure to standard research cigarette smoke for as long as 90 days led to progressively higher levels of serum calcitonin (iCT) as well as higher lung tissue iCT and the gastrin releasing-like peptides or mammalian bombesin (MB). Subsequent to a 30-day period during which there was no further exposure to smoke, serum levels returned to control levels, but the lung levels of both iCT and MB remained higher than control levels. Also, after the 90 days of exposure, immunocytochemistry revealed an increase in the number of iCT-containing PNE cells. This increase in the number of PNE cells correlated well with the increased iCT content of the lung tissue. We conclude that subchronic cigarette smoke exposure causes an increase in pulmonary levels of iCT and MB, which may be linked to the observed proliferative response of the PNE cells.