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Smoking, humoral immunity, and ulcerative colitis.
  1. E D Srivastava,
  2. J R Barton,
  3. S O'Mahony,
  4. D I Phillips,
  5. G T Williams,
  6. N Matthews,
  7. A Ferguson,
  8. J Rhodes
  1. Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.


    Since ulcerative colitis predominantly affects non-smokers and ex-smokers we have examined the possibility that smoking modifies the humoral immune response to an antigenic challenge from the gut lumen. Gut lavage was used in healthy subjects and patients with ulcerative colitis, including both smokers and non-smokers. Antibodies in the intestinal fluid to Escherichia coli (five pooled serotypes), Candida albicans, gliadin, ovalbumin, and beta lactoglobulin were measured by ELISA to determine specific antibody concentrations of IgG, IgA, and IgM classes. Total IgG, IgA, and IgM were also measured in intestinal secretions and serum. In addition, circulating antibody concentrations of IgG, IgA, and IgM to three gut commensals - E coli (five pooled serotypes) C albicans, and Poroteus mirabilis were measured. There was a significant reduction in the IgA concentration in intestinal fluid of smokers with ulcerative colitis compared with healthy non-smoking controls. No other significant differences were found between the groups. Overall, these data are not consistent with the idea that smoking suppresses immune responses in the gut and suggest that the effect of smoking in colitis is mediated by another mechanism.

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