Research published in the journal Clinical Science suggests that an immune signalling protein called interleukin (IL)-26 is increased among chronic smokers with lung disease.
Chronic tobacco smokers have a substantially increased rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis and bacterial lung infections and these disorders respond poorly to currently available therapies. This is thought to be associated with the accumulation of a type of white blood cell, called neutrophils, in their airways.
Dr Karlhans Fru Che and Professor Anders Lindén at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, led a team of researchers from universities in Sweden and Finland to investigate why chronic smokers with lung disease have such high levels of neutrophils. They found that an immune signalling protein called IL-26 is present at high levels in the lungs of these patients.