Free Radic Biol Med. 2023 Mar 3:S0891-5849(23)00100-4. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2023.03.002. Online ahead of print.
Cigarette smoke (CS)-induced oxidative stress drives the pathogenesis of respiratory diseases, in which the activation and accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role. Ferroptosis, a regulated cell death induced by Fe2+-dependent, lipid peroxidation, and ROS, is closely related to CS-induced airway injury disease, but its mechanism remains unclear. We found that bronchial epithelial ferroptosis and expression of iNOS in smoking patients were significantly higher than that in non-smokers. The iNOS, induced by CS exposure, was involved in bronchial epithelial cell ferroptosis, whereas genetic depletion or pharmacologic inactivation of iNOS attenuated the CS-induced ferroptosis and mitochondrial dysfunction. Our mechanistic studies found that SIRT3 directly bound to and negatively regulated iNOS to mediate ferroptosis. Moreover, we found that the Nrf-2/SIRT3 signal was deactivated by cigarette smoke extract (CSE)-induced ROS. Collectively, these results linked CS to human bronchial epithelial cell ferroptosis through ROS deactivation of the Nrf-2/SIRT3 signal to promote iNOS expression. Our study provides new insights into the pathogenesis of CS-induced tracheal injury diseases such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.