How does smoking increase susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Updated: Aug 15, 2019
  • Author: Paul Kleinschmidt, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

It appears that smoking may overcome the body's natural mechanisms for limiting this immune response. This process can continue in susceptible individuals even after smoking cessation. Even if the original noxious insults are removed, COPD is still characterized by progressive accumulation of cells of the immune system, fibrosis, and mucus hypersecretion. The molecular basis for the lung inflammation seen in COPD is still an area of great research and debate, with the potential roles of cytokines, complex autoimmune processes, and immune modulation from chronic infection all under investigation.


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