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Authors Jetté ME, Seroogy CM, Thibeault SL
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Journal Laryngoscope
Publish Date 2016 Sep 22
PubMed ID 27653511

The larynx is a mucosal organ rich in lymphatic tissue that is regularly exposed to a multitude of inhaled, ingested, and refluxed microorganisms and irritants. The first line of mucosal immune defense is the barrier, including resident immune cells. T regulatory (Treg) cells are a specialized subset of CD4+ T cells that suppress or dampen immune responses to prevent damaging immunopathology. As Treg cells have been shown to preferentially accumulate at sites of infection, and Treg responses may contribute to persistence of infection by impairing antibacterial immunity, we sought to quantify these cells in laryngeal tissue exposed to smoking and reflux.Cross-sectional study.Using an epigenetic assay, we quantified Treg and T cells and calculated the ratio of Treg to T cells (i.e., cellular ratio of immune tolerance [ImmunoCRIT]) in disease-free laryngeal biopsies representing four inflammatory states: 1) tobacco-exposed tissue, 2) refluxate and tobacco-exposed tissue, 3) refluxate-exposed tissue, and 4) unexposed tissue.There was epigenetic evidence of Treg cells in all tissues, and we found no differences in Treg cell frequency relative to smoking and reflux in laryngeal tissue collected from 42 non-treatment-seeking participants. There was a decrease in total T cell frequency and an increase in ImmunoCRIT values in smokers regardless of reflux status.In this study, laryngeal tissue from smokers show decreased overall T cells and increased ImmunoCRIT values. Our findings indicate that laryngeal inflammation is not directly mediated by loss of Treg cells in response to smoking and reflux in local tissue and increased ImmunoCRIT values in smokers implicate a role for this environmental exposure in modulating laryngeal immune homeostasis. More studies are indicated to explore Treg cell dysfunction in the pathophysiology of laryngeal disease.NA Laryngoscope, 2016. Copyright © 2016 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System