Alcohol Use Disorders Are Associated With a Unique Impact on Airway Epithelial Cell Gene Expression

Kristina L. Bailey, Harry Smith, Susan K. Mathai, Jonathan Huber, Mark Yacoub, Ivana V. Yang, Todd A. Wyatt, Katerina Kechris, Ellen L. Burnham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and cigarette smoking both increase risk for the development of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), likely through adverse effects on proximal airway mucociliary clearance and pathogen recognition. Smoking-related alterations on airway gene expression are well described, but little is known about the impact of AUDs. We measured gene expression in human airway epithelial cells (AECs), hypothesizing that AUDs would be associated with novel differences in gene expression that could alter risk for CAP. Methods: Bronchoscopy with airway brushings was performed in participants with AUDs and controls to obtain AECs. An AUD Identification Test was used to define AUD. RNA was extracted from AECs, and mRNA expression data were collected on an Agilent micro-array. Differential expression analyses were performed on the filtered and normalized data with correction for multiple testing. Enrichment analyses were performed using clusterProfiler. Results: Expression data from 19 control and 18 AUD participants were evaluated. After adjustment for smoking, AUDs were associated with significant differential expression of 520 AEC genes, including genes for ribosomal proteins and genes involved in protein folding. Enrichment analyses indicated significant differential expression of 24 pathways in AUDs, including those implicated in protein targeting to membrane and viral gene expression. Smoking-associated AEC gene expression differences mirrored previous reports, but differed from those associated with AUDs. Conclusions: AUDs have a distinct impact on AEC gene expression that may influence proximal airway function independent of smoking. Alcohol-associated alterations may influence risk for CAP through modifying key mechanisms important in protecting proximal airway integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1571-1584
Number of pages14
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Alcoholism
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Community-Acquired Pneumonia
  • Micro-array
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Alcohol Use Disorders Are Associated With a Unique Impact on Airway Epithelial Cell Gene Expression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this