Dietary antioxidants and cigarette smoke-induced biomolecular damage: A complex interaction

J. P. Eiserich, A. Van der Vliet, G. J. Handelman, B. Halliwell, C. E. Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

256 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic evidence suggests that cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, for carcinogenesis, and for cardiovascular disease. However, the precise mechanisms of these effects are incompletely understood. The gas phase of cigarette smoke contains abundant free radicals including nitric oxide. Hence, cigarette smoke may induce some of its damaging effects by free radical mechanisms. We report that exposure of plasma, a model for respiratory tract lining fluids, to gas-phase cigarette smoke causes depletion of antioxidants, including ascorbate, urate, ubiquinol-10, and α- tocopherol, and a variety of carotenoids, including β-carotene. Gas-phase cigarette smoke induced some lipid peroxidation, as measured by cholesteryl linoleate hydroperoxide (18:2OOH) formation. Ascorbate was effective in preventing 18:2OOH formation. In contrast to the low concentrations of lipid hydroperoxides measured (< 1 μmol/L), protein carbonyl formation, a measure of protein modification, increased by ≃400 μmol/L after nine puffs of cigarette smoke. Reduced glutathione inhibited protein carbonyl formation, whereas other plasma antioxidants, including ascorbate, were ineffective. α,β-Unsaturated aldehydes (acrolein and crotonaldehyde) in cigarette smoke may react with protein -SH and -NH2 groups by a Michael addition reaction that results in a protein-bound aldehyde functional group. Gas-phase cigarette smoke is capable of converting tyrosine to 3-nitrotyrosine and dityrosine, indicating free radical mechanisms of protein damage by nitrogen oxides. Aldehydes and nitrogen oxides in cigarette smoke may be significant contributors to biomolecular damage, and endogenous antioxidants can attenuate some of these adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1995


  • aldehydes
  • ascorbic acid
  • carotenoids
  • Cigarette smoke
  • free radicals
  • lipid peroxidation
  • nitric oxide
  • oxidants
  • protein modification
  • thiols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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