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UNC TCORS: Translational Studies to Identify Epithelial Biomarkers of Smoke Exposure

UNC TCORS: Translational Studies to Identify Epithelial Biomarkers of Smoke Exposure

Principal Investigator: Ilona Jaspers

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health- TCORS Grant

ID number: 1P50HL120100-01

Award Date: 9/19/2013

Institution: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill


The respiratory epithelium is the primary target of most common respiratory viruses in humans. Cigarette smoke-induced changes in epithelial function have a significant impact on respiratory host defense and are important in determining the final outcome of infection; however, it is unknown whether tobacco alternatives (e.g., hookah, little cigars) have similar effects on epithelial host defense responses. This project will identify genomic biomarkers of smoke exposure associated with tobacco alternatives from nasal epithelial cell samples obtained from 240 adults (aged 18-45) and will evaluate respiratory host defense in subjects infected with live attenuated influenza virus. Specific aims are: (1) to use superficial nasal scrape biopsies to compare genomic and epigenomic signatures induced in epithelial cells following exposure to cigarette smoking and tobacco alternatives; (2) to use an in vitro model of differentiated human nasal epithelial cells to compare host defense responses following exposure to cigarette smoke and tobacco alternatives; and (3) to compare influenza-induced responses in cigarette smokers, hookah smokers, and e-cigarette smokers in vivo. This research will provide new information about the impact of new and emerging tobacco products on respiratory defense systems.


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