CD40/CD154 system and pro-inflammatory cytokines in young healthy male smokers without additional risk factors for atherosclerosis

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Objective and design:

Atherosclerosis, as an inflammatory disease, is characterized by pathologically altered levels of cytokines. We investigated whether smoking affects the CD40/CD154 system and pro-inflammatory cytokines in young males without other risk factors for atherosclerosis.


Young male smokers (n=13) and 14 non-smoking controls were investigated.


The differences in CD40/CD154 system and serum cytokines between the groups were measured using flow cytometry and ELISA.


In smokers, there was a strong trend (P<0.06) for increased CD40 expression on platelets as compared with non-smokers. However, there were no significant differences in CD40 expression on monocytes or in CD154 expression on platelets and T-cells between smokers and non-smokers. There was a strong trend for increased platelet-monocyte aggregates in smokers (P<0.06). Also, smokers had slightly but not significantly elevated hsCRP and IL-6 levels, and slightly decreased TNF-α and MCP-1. Interestingly, IL-18, a cytokine which has the ability to promote both Th1 and Th2 responses, was significantly decreased in smokers group (P=0.03 vs controls).


In young healthy males, smoking is not associated with dramatic changes in CD40/CD154 system. However, cigarette smoke alters the secreted cytokine profile, leading to significant decrease in systemic IL-18 levels.

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