The Effect of Cigarette Smoke on the Microbiota or the Normal Flora of the Nasal Cavity

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Introduction. The adverse health effects of cigarette smoking are well established, including the direct effects of nicotine on human endothelial cells and fibroblasts. However, the direct effects of nicotine in the nasal cavity remain uninvestigated. The study aim was to ascertain the direct effect of chemical components in cigarette smoke on the microbial flora or microbiota of the nasal cavity. Methods. We enrolled 40 participants from the Benson Idahosa University’s Health clinics to conduct this study. Information on demographic characteristics including age, sex, and smoking duration was obtained at baseline. We collected nasal swabs of 20 smokers and 20 non-smokers. The wool content of the swap stick was immediately stored in mac Cathy bottles containing 9 ml of normal saline and transported to the laboratory in less than 45 minutes after collection for microbiological analysis under aseptic condition. The enumeration of the microorganisms was carried out using the streak and pours plate method on Nutrient agar, Blood agar, Chocolate agar, Mac coney agar and Potato Dextrose agar (PDA). A two-sample t-test was used to determine differences in enumeration of microorganisms and isolates between smokers and non-smokers. Results. Total bacterial counts for the smokers ranged from 177 - 307 x 102 cfu/ml and 223 - 551 x 102 cfu/ml for non-smokers with (p = 0.046 Nutrient agar, and p = 0.011 PDA). The bacteria isolates were identified as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus vulgaris and Streptococcus pneumonia, and the fungi isolates were identified as Aspergillus niger, Rhizopus stolonifer, Tricoderma viridae, respectively. The mean of nutrient agar in smokers is significantly lower (12.10) than that in nonsmokers (19.35), and the mean of PDA in smokers is significantly higher in smokers (5.75) than in nonsmokers (2.35). Higher percentages of gram-negative rods including Klebsiella pneumoniae (20%), Escherichia coli (20%) and Proteus vulgaris (20%) were identified in the smokers, which is in contrast to higher percentage of gram-positive cocci including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumonia identified in non-smokers. The most commonly isolated fungus in smokers was Aspergillus niger (45%) and nonsmokers was Rhizopus stolonifer (60%). Conclusions. Study findings demonstrated increased bacterial count and isolates in nasal cavity of smokers than non-smokers. Future studies should be warranted to understand the mechanistic role of nicotine in influencing microbiota of the nasal cavity.


Johnson City, TN

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