Neuropathology of cigarette smoking

Raymond Chuen Chung Chang, Yuen Shan Ho, Shun Wong, Stephen M. Gentleman, Ho Keung Ng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


It is well established that cigarette smoking is hazardous to health and is a risk factor for many chronic diseases. However, its impact on the brain, whether it be from prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoking, cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease (AD) or Parkinson's disease, is still not very clear. Neuroimaging and neuropathological investigations suggest that there are heterogeneous effects of cigarette smoking on the brain. On the one hand, it is quite clear that cigarette smoking causes damage to endothelial cells, resulting in increased risk of cerebrovascular disease. On the other hand, it seems to be associated with different Alzheimer's pathologies in post-mortem brains and experimental models, despite the fact that epidemiological studies clearly indicate a positive correlation between cigarette smoking and increased risk for AD. Interestingly, cigarette smoking appears to be associated with reduced Parkinson's pathology in post-mortem brains. However, although nicotine in cigarettes may have some neuroprotective actions, the effects of all the other toxic compounds in cigarettes cannot be ignored. It is, therefore, our aim to summarize what is known about the neuropathology of cigarette smoking and, in particular, its implications for neurodegenerative diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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