Proteomic Analysis of Vocal Fold Fibroblasts Exposed to Cigarette Smoke Extract: Exploring the Pathophysiology of Reinke's Edema.


‡Division of Phoniatrics, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria [Email]


Reinke's edema is a smoking-associated, benign, mostly bilateral lesion of the vocal folds leading to difficulties in breathing and voice problems. Pronounced histological changes such as damaged microvessels or immune cell infiltration have been described in the vocal fold connective tissue, the lamina propria Thus, vocal fold fibroblasts, the main cell type of the lamina propria, have been postulated to play a critical role in disease mediation. Yet information about the pathophysiology is still scarce and treatment is only surgical, i.e. symptomatic. To explore the pathophysiology of Reinke's edema, we exposed near-primary human vocal fold fibroblasts to medium conditioned with cigarette smoke extract for 24 h as well as 4 days followed by quantitative mass spectrometry.Proteomic analyses after 24 h revealed that cigarette smoke increased proteins previously described to be involved in oxidative stress responses in other contexts. Correspondingly, gene sets linked to metabolism of xenobiotics and reactive oxygen species were significantly enriched among cigarette smoke-induced proteins. Among the proteins most downregulated by cigarette smoke, we identified fibrillar collagens COL1A1 and COL1A2; this reduction was validated by complementary methods. Further, we found a significant increase of UDP-glucose 6-dehydrogenase, generating a building block for biosynthesis of hyaluronan, another crucial component of the vocal fold lamina propria In line with this result, hyaluronan levels were significantly increased because of cigarette smoke exposure. Long term treatment of 4 days did not lead to significant changes.The current findings corroborate previous studies but also reveal new insights in possible disease mechanisms of Reinke's edema. We postulate that changes in the composition of the vocal folds' extracellular matrix -reduction of collagen fibrils, increase of hyaluronan- may lead to the clinical findings. This might ease the identification of better, disease-specific treatment options.


Cigarette smoke,Clinical proteomics,Extracellular matrix*,Inflammation,Larynx,Oxidative stress,Protein Identification*,Reinke's edema,Vocal fold fibroblasts,