Causation of cigarette smoke-induced emphysema by p-benzoquinone and its prevention by Vitamin C

Arunava Ghosh, Shinjini Ganguly, Neekkan Dey, Santanu Banerjee, Archita Das, Dhruba J. Chattopadhyay, Indu B. Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cigarette smoke (CS) is the strongest risk factor for emphysema. However, the mechanism of the disease is not clear. One reason is that each puff of CS is a complex mixture of approximately 4, 000 chemicals, and it is yet to be known which of these chemical(s) are directly involved in the pathogenesis of lung injury in emphysema. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that p-benzoquinone (p-BQ) produced in the lungs of CS-exposed guinea pigs is a causative factor for destruction of alveolar cells resulting in emphysema that is prevented by vitamin C. Vitamin C-restricted guinea pigs were subjected to whole-body CS exposure from five Kentucky research cigarettes (3R4F) per day or intramuscular injection of p-BQ in amounts approximately produced in the lung from CS exposure with and without oral supplementation of vitamin C. Progressive exposure of CS or p-BQ treatment caused progressive accumulation of p-BQ in the lung that was accompanied by destruction of alveolar cells and emphysema. The pathogenesis involved was arylation, oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis. Vitamin C (30 mg/kg body weight/d), a potential antagonist of p-BQ, prevented accumulation of p-BQ in the lung and the pathogenesis of emphysema. Our study provides the first proof that inactivation of p-BQ, a causative factor of emphysema in CS-exposed lung, could constitute a novel and effective approach in the prevention of emphysema. We consider that a moderately high dose of vitamin C may be a simple preventive therapy for emphysema in chronic smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-322
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cigarette smoke
  • Emphysema
  • Guinea pig model
  • P-benzoquinone
  • Vitamin C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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