Immune Trait Shifts in Association With Tobacco Smoking: A Study in Healthy Women

Giulia Piaggeschi, Simona Rolla, Niccolò Rossi, Davide Brusa, Alessio Naccarati, Simon Couvreur, Tim D. Spector, Mario Roederer, Massimo Mangino, Francesca Cordero, Mario Falchi, Alessia Visconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Tobacco smoking is known to impact circulating levels of major immune cells populations, but its effect on specific immune cell subsets remains poorly understood. Here, using high-resolution data from 223 healthy women (25 current and 198 never smokers), we investigated the association between smoking status and 35,651 immune traits capturing immune cell subset frequencies. Our results confirmed that active tobacco smoking is associated with increased frequencies of circulating CD8+ T cells expressing the CD25 activation marker. Moreover, we identified novel associations between smoking status and relative abundances of CD8+ CD25+ memory T cells, CD8+ memory T cells expressing the CCR4 chemokine receptor, and CD4+CD8+ (double-positive) CD25+ T cells. We also observed, in current smokers, a decrease in the relative frequencies of CD4+ T cells expressing the CD38 activation marker and an increase in class-switched memory B cell isotypes IgA, IgG, and IgE. Finally, using data from 135 former female smokers, we showed that the relative frequencies of immune traits associated with active smoking are usually completely restored after smoking cessation, with the exception of subsets of CD8+ and CD8+ memory T cells, which persist partially altered. Our results are consistent with previous findings and provide further evidence on how tobacco smoking shapes leukocyte cell subsets proportion toward chronic inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number637974
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2021


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