In addition, as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke, some strains of Staphylococcus aureus begin to multiply better, although the effect is not universal for all the strains tested, says MedicalXpress.
Researchers believe that the stress caused by cigarette smoke causes the S. aureus bacteria to produce something like an SOS reaction, which increases the rate of mutation in microbial DNA, as a result of which such bacteria resist antibiotics better.
Previous studies have linked smokers with increased susceptibility to infections with the damaging effects of smoke on our immune system, but this study shows that it can also change the DNA and the characteristics of pathogenic microbes.
In a series of laboratory experiments, researchers from Bath, together with colleagues from Imperial College London, Oxford University and other universities, identified six reference virus strains. The most important of these is methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Its strains cause diseases from skin infections to pneumonia and endocarditis. Although not all colonies responded equally to cigarette smoke, some of them showed increased resistance to the antibiotic rifampicin, that is, they became superbugs.
Lead author Dr. Meisem Laabei from the Faculty of Biology and Biochemistry of the University of Bath said: “We expected some effects, but we did not expect the smoke to affect drug resistance to that extent. We understand that exposure in the laboratory is different from inhaling smoke for a long time, but it is reasonable to hypothesize that stressful conditions caused by smoking cause reactions in microbial cells, leading to adaptation to harsh conditions, with a general effect of increasing potential for infection. "
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“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, and cigarette smoke contains more than 4,800 compounds. We wanted to study S. aureus because it is very common in people and can cause a number of diseases, so we wanted to see what happened when we exposed it to smoke. It turned out. that such colonies are highly invasive and resistant. They are difficult to expel, and they are associated with chronic infections. We hope that our work will serve as another reason for not smoking and quitting, ”said Dr. Meissem Laabei.
Scientists are now interested in studying how air pollution from car exhaust and other sources can affect our habitual bacteria, since many of the pollutants are the same as in cigarette smoke.