Increased content of hydrogen peroxide in the expired breath of cigarette smokers.
Cigarette smoking causes an influx of mononuclear phagocytes and polymorphonuclear leucocytes into the lower airways. These cells have altered oxygen metabolism and release more H2O2 than phagocytes from nonsmokers. In this study, we intended to determine whether asymptomatic cigarette smokers exhale more H2O2 than healthy nonsmokers. The content of H2O2 in the expired condensate of 27 nonsmokers and 33 cigarette smokers was measured spectrofluorimetrically (homovanillic acid method). The mean H2O2 level in the expired breath condensate of all cigarette smokers was about fivefold higher than that found in the whole nonsmoker group (0.24 +/- 0.32 versus 0.05 +/- 0.11 nM). However, only 16 smokers (49%) and 6 nonsmokers (22%) had detectable levels of H2O2 in expired breath that reached values 0.49 +/- 0.28 and 0.23 +/- 0.10 nM, respectively. Although the cigarette smoking status was similar for both male and female smokers, females expired 2.5 fold less H2O2 than males (0.15 +/- 0.24 (n = 21) versus 0.38 +/- 0.39 (n = 12) nM. No correlation was found between expired H2O2 levels and cigarette smoking status expressed as the daily cigarette consumption, cumulative cigarette consumption and urinary cotinine concentration. It is suggested that in some smokers, expressed H2O2 can be a noninvasive marker of oxidant overload in the lower airways related to cigarette smoking.