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Papers of the Week

2021 May 05

Sci Rep



Acute cigarette smoke or extract exposure rapidly activates TRPA1-mediated calcium influx in primary human airway smooth muscle cells.


Lin JH, Taggart M, Borthwick L, Fisher A, Brodlie M, Sassano FM, Tarran R, Gray MA
Sci Rep. 2021 May 05; 11(1):9643.
PMID: 33953304.


Tobacco smoking is the largest risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is associated with hyperresponsiveness of airway smooth muscle (ASM). Chronic exposure to cigarette smoke (CS) leads to airway inflammation and remodelling. However, the direct effect of gaseous CS or CS extract (CSE) on human airway smooth muscle cell (hASMC) function remains poorly understood. This study investigated the acute effect of CS/CSE on calcium homeostasis, a key regulator of ASM physiology and pathophysiology. Primary hASMC were isolated from non-smoking donor lungs, and subjected to Ca imaging studies. We found that both CS, and CSE, rapidly elevated cytosolic Ca in hASMC through stimulation of plasmalemmal Ca influx, but excluded store-operated and L-type Ca channels as mediators of this effect. Using a specific pharmacological inhibitor, or shRNA-driven knockdown, we established that both CS and CSE stimulated Ca influx in hASMC through the neurogenic pain receptor channel, transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1). CS/CSE-dependent, TRPA1-mediated Ca influx led to myosin light-chain phosphorylation, a key process regulating ASM contractility. We conclude that TRPA1 is likely an important link between CS/CSE exposure and airway hyperresponsiveness, and speculate that acute CS/CSE-induced Ca influx could lead to exacerbated ASM contraction and potentially initiate further chronic pathological effects of tobacco smoke.