Smoking can leave the body open to systemic inflammation diseases

Published 2012-06-07 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:33

[PRESS INVITATION 7 June 2012] It has long been known that smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, COPD and other lung diseases. However, new research shows that smoking also greatly increases the likelihood of developing other diseases involving inflammatory processes.

These "systemic inflammation diseases" include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS) and the muscle disease myositis. Scientists are now gathering to discuss the latest findings at a conference titled "The Lung - a pivotal player in systemic inflammatory diseases":

  • Date: 11-12 June
  • Venue: SAS Radisson, Frösundavik, Solna.

It is now considered proven that certain genetic conditions combined with smoking-related changes in the lungs greatly increase the risk of developing these types of disease, which are conventionally treated by neurologists or rheumatologists. Smoking can alter the protein composition of the lugs, which can cause the body to treat these proteins as foreign. Immunological chain reactions are then triggered which lead to further changes in and symptoms from a number of other body organs. This makes smoking-related changes in the lungs a critical factor in certain cases of RA, MS and myositis, diseases that affect a great many people every year.

This new knowledge impels the cooperation of specialists and scientists from different fields: neurologists, rheumatologists, geneticists and pulmonologists. Karolinska Institutet is therefore arranging a symposium where new knowledge will be presented on the pivotal role that smoking-related changes in the lungs can have in the development of systemic inflammatory diseases. It is hoped that such a multidisciplinary approach will encourage more probing research and, eventually, new treatment strategies. Perhaps signs of an inflammatory reaction in the lungs can be treated at a very early stage in order to stave off many of our major diseases?

The symposium is being arranged with the generous support of the Heart-Lung Foundation and the Swedish Research Council, amongst other bodies.

Reporters are welcome to contact the participating scientists.

Programme extract:

  • Epidemiology as a tool to understand interactions between lung exposures, genes and immune phenotypes.
  • T-cell responses in chronic inflammatory diseases related to smoking - a research approach. Jan Wahlström, Karolinska Institutet.
  • Early signs of inflammation in the lungs preceding onset of RA. Kristen Demourelle, Denver.
  • Therapeutic approaches to interstitial lung involvement in systemic inflammation. What has been done - what are we asking for? Robert Baughmann, Cincinnati.

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