Dietary antioxidants prevent alcohol-induced ciliary dysfunction

Samantha M. Simet, Jacqueline A. Pavlik, Joseph H. Sisson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Previously we have shown that chronic alcohol intake causes alcohol-induced ciliary dysfunction (AICD), leading to non-responsive airway cilia. AICD likely occurs through the downregulation of nitric oxide (NO) and cyclic nucleotide-dependent kinases, protein kinase G (PKG) and protein kinase A (PKA). Studies by others have shown that dietary supplementation with the antioxidants N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and procysteine prevent other alcohol-induced lung complications. This led us to hypothesize that dietary supplementation with NAC or procysteine prevents AICD. To test this hypothesis, C57BL/6 mice drank an alcohol/water solution (20% w/v) ad libitum for 6 weeks and were concurrently fed dietary supplements of either NAC or procysteine. Ciliary beat frequency (CBF) was measured in mice tracheas, and PKG/PKA responsiveness to β-agonists and NOx levels were measured from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. Long-term alcohol drinking reduced CBF, PKG and PKA responsiveness to β-agonists, and lung NOx levels in BAL fluid. In contrast, alcohol-drinking mice fed NAC or procysteine sustained ciliary function and PKG and PKA responsiveness to β-agonists. However, BAL NO levels remained low despite antioxidant supplementation. We also determined that removal of alcohol from the drinking water for as little as 1 week restored ciliary function, but not PKG and PKA responsiveness to β-agonists. We conclude that dietary supplementation with NAC or procysteine protects against AICD. In addition, alcohol removal for 1 week restores cilia function independent of PKG and PKA activity. Our findings provide a rationale for the use of antioxidants to prevent damage to airway mucociliary functions in chronic alcohol-drinking individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-635
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Alcohol
  • Ciliary beat frequency
  • Ciliary dysfunction
  • N-acetylcysteine
  • Nitric oxide
  • PKA
  • PKG
  • Procysteine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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