Changes in neutrophil morphology and morphometry following exposure to cigarette smoke

S Lannan, A. McLean, Ellen Drost, M Gillooly, K Donaldson, D. Lamb, W Macnee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute cigarette smoking delays neutrophils within the pulmonary circulation in some smokers. Evidence from an in-vitro Micropore filter model of the pulmonary capillaries indicates that this may be due to a smoke induced decrease in cell deformability. In order to determine whether changes in cell shape are associated with the observed decrease in neutrophil deformability following smoke exposure, cell morphology, using scanning electron microscopy, and morphometric measurements, made using transmission electron microscopy, were performed on aliquots of neutrophils harvested from whole blood in non-smoking subjects before and after exposure in vitro to cigarette smoke. Smoke exposure increased the maximum diameter and circumference of neutrophils, without changing their area. There was also a change in the maximum to minimum cell diameter ratio, which indicated that the cells had become less spherical. Scanning electron microscopy showed that smoke exposed cells had developed blebbing of their surface membranes, suggestive of an oxidative injury to the cell membrane rather than the shape changes associated with cell activation. These changes in the morphology and morphometry of smoke exposed neutrophils may contribute to the reduction in cell deformability induced by cigarette smoke.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-91
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Experimental Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1992


  • Cigarette smoke
  • Neutrophil
  • Morphometry


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