20 May 2020
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is mainly associated with smoking habit. Inflammation is the major initiating process whereby neutrophils and monocytes are attracted into the lung microenvironment by external stimuli present in tobacco leaves and in cigarette smoke, which promote chemotaxis, adhesion, phagocytosis, release of superoxide anions and enzyme granule contents. A minority of smokers develops COPD and different molecular factors, which contribute to the onset of the disease, have been put forward. After many years of research, the pathogenesis of COPD is still an object of debate. In vivo models of cigarette smoke-induced COPD may help to unravel cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of COPD. The mouse represents the most favored animal choice with regard to the study of immune mechanisms due to its genetic and physiological similarities to humans, the availability of a large variability of inbred strains, the presence in the species of several genetic disorders analogous to those in man, and finally on the possibility to create models “made-to-measure” by genetic manipulation. The review outlines the different response of mouse strains to cigarette smoke used in COPD studies while retaining a strong focus on their relatability to human patients. These studies reveal the importance of innate immunity and cell surface receptors in the pathogenesis of pulmonary injury induced by cigarette smoking. They further advance the way in which we use wild type or genetically manipulated strains to improve our overall understanding of a multifaceted disease such as COPD. The structural and functional features, which have been found in the different strains of mice after chronic exposure to cigarette smoke, can be used in preclinical studies to develop effective new therapeutic agents for the different phenotypes in human COPD.