Tobacco Smoke Mediated Induction of Sinonasal Microbial Biofilms
Cigarette smokers and those exposed to second hand smoke are more susceptible to life threatening infection than non-smokers. While much is known about the devastating effect tobacco exposure has on the human body, less is known about the effect of tobacco smoke on the commensal and commonly found pathogenic bacteria of the human respiratory tract, or human respiratory tract microbiome. Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a common medical complaint, affecting 16% of the US population with an estimated aggregated cost of $6 billion annually. Epidemiologic studies demonstrate a correlation between tobacco smoke exposure and rhinosinusitis. Although a common cause of CRS has not been defined, bacterial presence within the nasal and paranasal sinuses is assumed to be contributory. Here we demonstrate that repetitive tobacco smoke exposure induces biofilm formation in a diverse set of bacteria isolated from the sinonasal cavities of patients with CRS. Additionally, bacteria isolated from patients with tobacco smoke exposure demonstrate robust in vitro biofilm formation when challenged with tobacco smoke compared to those isolated from smoke naïve patients. Lastly, bacteria from smoke exposed patients can revert to a non-biofilm phenotype when grown in the absence of tobacco smoke. These observations support the hypothesis that tobacco exposure induces sinonasal biofilm formation, thereby contributing to the conversion of a transient and medically treatable infection to a persistent and therapeutically recalcitrant condition.
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