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1.  Radiation-Induced Impairment in Lung Lymphatic Vasculature 
Lymphatic Research and Biology  2014;12(4):238-250.
Background: The lymphatic vasculature has been shown to play important roles in lung injury and repair, particularly in lung fibrosis. The effects of ionizing radiation on lung lymphatic vasculature have not been previously reported.
Methods and Results: C57Bl/6 mice were immobilized in a lead shield exposing only the thoracic cavity, and were irradiated with a single dose of 14 Gy. Animals were sacrificed and lungs collected at different time points (1, 4, 8, and 16 weeks) following radiation. To identify lymphatic vessels in lung tissue sections, we used antibodies that are specific for lymphatic vessel endothelial receptor 1 (LYVE-1), a marker of lymphatic endothelial cells (LEC). To evaluate LEC cell death and oxidative damage, lung tissue sections were stained for LYVE-1 and with TUNEL staining, or 8-oxo-dG respectively. Images were imported into ImageJ v1.36b and analyzed. Compared to a non-irradiated control group, we observed a durable and progressive decrease in the density, perimeter, and area of lymphatic vessels over the study period. The decline in the density of lymphatic vessels was observed in both subpleural and interstitial lymphatics. Histopathologically discernible pulmonary fibrosis was not apparent until 16 weeks after irradiation. Furthermore, there was significantly increased LEC apoptosis and oxidative damage at one week post-irradiation that persisted at 16 weeks.
Conclusions: There is impairment of lymphatic vasculature after a single dose of ionizing radiation that precedes architectural distortion and fibrosis, suggesting important roles for the lymphatic circulation in the pathogenesis of the radiation-induced lung injury.
PMCID: PMC4267131  PMID: 25412238
Brevetoxins are potent neurotoxins produced by the marine dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis. Exposure to brevetoxins may occur during a K. brevis red tide when the compounds become aerosolized by wind and surf. This study assesses possible adverse health effects associated with short-term inhalation exposure to brevetoxin 3. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 500 µg brevetoxin 3/m3 by nose-only inhalation for 0.5 or 2 hr/day for 5 consecutive days. Control rats were sham exposed for 2 hr to vehicle. Calculated deposited brevetoxin doses were 8.3 and 33 µg/kg/day for the low- and high-dose groups, respectively. At the termination of exposures, only body weights of the high-dose group (Group B) were significantly below control values. By immunohistochemistry (IHC), small numbers of splenic and peribronchiolar lymphoid tissue macrophages stained positive for brevetoxin, while nasal mucosa, liver, and brain were IHC negative for brevetoxin. No gross or microscopic lesions were observed in any tissue examined. There was no biochemical evidence of cytotoxicity or inflammation in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Alveolar macrophages showed some evidence of activation following brevetoxin exposure. Humoral-mediated immunity was suppressed in brevetoxin-exposed rats as indicated by a 70% reduction in splenic plaque forming cells in brevetoxin-exposed animals compared to controls. Results suggest that the immune system may be a target of toxicity following brevetoxin inhalation. Future studies will focus on identification of a no-effect level and mechanisms underlying brevetoxin-induced immune suppression.
PMCID: PMC2846653  PMID: 15371231
3.  Prenatal Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon, Adiposity, Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor (PPAR) γ Methylation in Offspring, Grand-Offspring Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110706.
Greater levels of prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) have been associated with childhood obesity in epidemiological studies. However, the underlying mechanisms are unclear.
We hypothesized that prenatal PAH over-exposure during gestation would lead to weight gain and increased fat mass in offspring and grand-offspring mice. Further, we hypothesized that altered adipose gene expression and DNA methylation in genes important to adipocyte differentiation would be affected.
Materials and Methods
Pregnant dams were exposed to a nebulized PAH mixture versus negative control aerosol 5 days a week, for 3 weeks. Body weight was recorded from postnatal day (PND) 21 through PND60. Body composition, adipose cell size, gene expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ, CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins (C/EBP) α, cyclooxygenase (Cox)-2, fatty acid synthase (FAS) and adiponectin, and DNA methylation of PPAR γ, were assayed in both the offspring and grand-offspring adipose tissue.
Offspring of dams exposed to greater PAH during gestation had increased weight, fat mass, as well as higher gene expression of PPAR γ, C/EBP α, Cox2, FAS and adiponectin and lower DNA methylation of PPAR γ. Similar differences in phenotype and DNA methylation extended through the grand-offspring mice.
Greater prenatal PAH exposure was associated with increased weight, fat mass, adipose gene expression and epigenetic changes in progeny.
PMCID: PMC4210202  PMID: 25347678
4.  Vehicular Emissions Induce Vascular MMP-9 Expression and Activity Associated with Endothelin-1 Mediated Pathways 
Mechanisms of air pollution-induced exacerbation of cardiovascular disease are currently unknown, thus we examined the roles of vascular endothelin-1 (ET-1) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in regulating mediators of vascular remodeling, namely matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), following exposure to vehicle engine emissions.
Methods and Results
ApoE-/- mice were exposed by inhalation to filtered air or gasoline engine exhaust (GEE, 1:12 dilution) 6 h/d for 1 or 7 days. Concurrently, mice were treated with either ETA receptor antagonist BQ-123 (100 ng/kg/day) via osmotic minipumps, Tempol (∼41 mg/kg/day, orally), or vehicle. GEE-exposure increased vascular MMP-2 and -9, endothelin-1 (ET-1), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-2 mRNA and ROS levels. Aortic MMP protein and plasma MMP-9 were similarly upregulated. GEE-mediated increases in vascular ROS were attenuated by Tempol-treatment, as were MMP-2 and TIMP-2; whereas BQ-123 ameliorated GEE-induced vascular expression of MMP-9, MMP-2, ROS, and ET-1. In a parallel study, diesel exhaust exposure in volunteer human subjects induced significant increases in plasma ET-1 and MMP-9 expression and activity.
These findings demonstrate that acute exposure to vehicular source air pollutants results in upregulation of circulating and vascular factors associated with progression of atherosclerosis, mediated in part through activation of ET-1 - ETA receptor pathways.
PMCID: PMC4103743  PMID: 19150882
atherosclerosis; endothelin-1; matrix metalloproteinase; reactive oxygen species; air pollution
5.  The in vivo efficacy and side effect pharmacology of GS-5759, a novel bifunctional phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor and long-acting β2-adrenoceptor agonist in preclinical animal species 
Bronchodilators are a central therapy for symptom relief in respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, with inhaled β2-adrenoceptor agonists and anticholinergics being the primary treatments available. The present studies evaluated the in vivo pharmacology of (R)-6-[[3-[[4-[5-[[2-Hydroxy-2-(8-hydroxy-2-oxo-1,2-dihydroquinolin-5-yl)ethyl]amino]pent-1-ynyl]phenyl]carbamoyl]phenyl]sulfonyl]-4-[(3-methoxyphenyl)amino]-8-methylquinoline-3-carboxamide (GS-5759), a novel bifunctional compound with both phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor and long-acting β2-adrenoceptor agonist (LABA) activity, which has been optimized for inhalation delivery. GS-5759 dose-dependently inhibited pulmonary neutrophilia in a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) aerosol challenge model of inflammation in rats with an ED50 ≤ 10 μg/kg. GS-5759 was also a potent bronchodilator with an ED50 of 0.09 μg/kg in guinea pigs and 3.4 μg/kg in dogs after methylcholine (MCh) and ragweed challenges respectively. In cynomolgus monkeys, GS-5759 was dosed as a fine-particle dry powder and was efficacious in the same dose range in both MCh and LPS challenge models, with an ED50 = 70 μg/kg for bronchodilation and ED50 = 4.9 μg/kg for inhibition of LPS-induced pulmonary neutrophilia. In models to determine therapeutic index (T.I.), efficacy for bronchodilation was evaluated against increased heart rate and GS-5759 had a T.I. of 700 in guinea pigs and >31 in dogs. In a ferret model of emesis, no emesis was seen at doses several orders of magnitude greater than the ED50 observed in the rat LPS inflammation model. GS-5759 is a bifunctional molecule developed for the treatment of COPD, which has both bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory activity and has the potential for combination as a triple therapy with a second compound, within a single inhalation device.
PMCID: PMC4186437  PMID: 25505595
Animal model; anti-inflammatory; β2-adrenoceptor agonist; bronchodilator; COPD; phoshphodiestersae 4
6.  Exposure to vehicle emissions results in altered blood brain barrier permeability and expression of matrix metalloproteinases and tight junction proteins in mice 
Traffic-generated air pollution-exposure is associated with adverse effects in the central nervous system (CNS) in both human exposures and animal models, including neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. While alterations in the blood brain barrier (BBB) have been implicated as a potential mechanism of air pollution-induced CNS pathologies, pathways involved have not been elucidated.
To determine whether inhalation exposure to mixed vehicle exhaust (MVE) mediates alterations in BBB permeability, activation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) -2 and −9, and altered tight junction (TJ) protein expression.
Apolipoprotein (Apo) E−/− and C57Bl6 mice were exposed to either MVE (100 μg/m3 PM) or filtered air (FA) for 6 hr/day for 30 days and resulting BBB permeability, expression of ROS, TJ proteins, markers of neuroinflammation, and MMP activity were assessed. Serum from study mice was applied to an in vitro BBB co-culture model and resulting alterations in transport and permeability were quantified.
MVE-exposed Apo E−/− mice showed increased BBB permeability, elevated ROS and increased MMP-2 and −9 activity, compared to FA controls. Additionally, cerebral vessels from MVE-exposed mice expressed decreased levels of TJ proteins, occludin and claudin-5, and increased levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and interleukin (IL)-1β in the parenchyma. Serum from MVE-exposed animals also resulted in increased in vitro BBB permeability and altered P-glycoprotein transport activity.
These data indicate that inhalation exposure to traffic-generated air pollutants promotes increased MMP activity and degradation of TJ proteins in the cerebral vasculature, resulting in altered BBB permeability and expression of neuroinflammatory markers.
PMCID: PMC3878624  PMID: 24344990
Air pollution; Blood brain barrier; Tight junction proteins; Matrix metalloproteinase; Neuroinflammation
7.  Prenatal and Postnatal Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure, Airway Hyperreactivity, and Beta-2 Adrenergic Receptor Function in Sensitized Mouse Offspring 
Journal of Toxicology  2013;2013:603581.
Despite data associating exposure to traffic-related polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in asthma, mechanistic support has been limited. We hypothesized that both prenatal and early postnatal exposure to PAH would increase airway hyperreactivity (AHR) and that the resulting AHR may be insensitive to treatment with a β2AR agonist drug, procaterol. Further, we hypothesized that these exposures would be associated with altered β2AR gene expression and DNA methylation in mouse lungs. Mice were exposed prenatally or postnatally to a nebulized PAH mixture versus negative control aerosol 5 days a week. Double knockout β2AR mice were exposed postnatally only. Prenatal exposure to PAH was associated with reduced β2AR gene expression among nonsensitized mice offspring, but not increases in DNA methylation or AHR. Postnatal exposure to PAH was borderline associated with increased AHR among sensitized wildtype, but not knockout mice. In the first study that delivers PAH aerosols to mice in a relatively physiological manner, small effects on AHR and β2AR gene expression, but not β2AR agonist drug activity, were observed. If confirmed, the results may suggest that exposure to PAH, common ambient urban pollutants, affects β2AR function, although the impact on the efficacy of β2AR agonist drugs used in treating asthma remains uncertain.
PMCID: PMC3876588  PMID: 24454363
8.  Identification of chemical components of combustion emissions that affect pro-atherosclerotic vascular responses in mice 
Inhalation toxicology  2012;24(5):270-287.
Combustion emissions cause pro-atherosclerotic responses in apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE/−) mice, but the causal components of these complex mixtures are unresolved. In studies previously reported, ApoE−/− mice were exposed by inhalation 6 h/day for 50 consecutive days to multiple dilutions of diesel or gasoline exhaust, wood smoke, or simulated “downwind” coal emissions. In this study, the analysis of the combined four-study database using the Multiple Additive Regression Trees (MART) data mining approach to determine putative causal exposure components regardless of combustion source is reported. Over 700 physical–chemical components were grouped into 45 predictor variables. Response variables measured in aorta included endothelin-1, vascular endothelin growth factor, three matrix metalloproteinases (3, 7, 9), metalloproteinase inhibitor 2, heme-oxygenase-1, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances. Two or three predictors typically explained most of the variation in response among the experimental groups. Overall, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide were most highly predictive of responses, although their rankings differed among the responses. Consistent with the earlier finding that filtration of particles had little effect on responses, particulate components ranked third to seventh in predictive importance for the eight response variables. MART proved useful for identifying putative causal components, although the small number of pollution mixtures (4) can provide only suggestive evidence of causality. The potential independent causal contributions of these gases to the vascular responses, as well as possible interactions among them and other components of complex pollutant mixtures, warrant further evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3606057  PMID: 22486345
Atherosclerosis; combustion emissions; matrix metalloproteinases; multiple additive regression trees; air pollution; vascular responses
9.  Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Impair Function of β2-Adrenergic Receptors in Airway Epithelial and Smooth Muscle Cells 
Incomplete combustion produces a pollutant mixture that includes polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Previous work by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) and others linked exposure to PAH with symptoms of asthma and other adverse health effects in young children. Inhaled β2-adrenergic agonists are mainstays in the treatment of reactive airway diseases. These exogenous catecholamines engage membrane-bound β2-adrenergic receptors (β2AR) on airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells to cause airway dilation. We hypothesized that exposure to PAH might similarly interfere with the function of β2AR in airway epithelial or smooth muscle cells, reducing the efficacy of a medication important for the treatment of asthma symptoms. A PAH mixture was devised, based on ambient levels measured prenatally among a cohort of pregnant women participating at the CCCEH. Primary airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells were exposed to varying concentrations of the PAH mixture, and expression, function, and signaling of β2AR were assessed. Murine tracheal epithelial cells and human airway smooth muscle cells, after exposure to a PAH mixture, exhibited reduced expression and function of β2AR. These findings support our hypothesis that environmentally relevant PAHs can impede β2AR-mediated airway relaxation, and suggest a new paradigm where air pollutants not only contribute to the pathogenesis of childhood asthma, but also diminish responsiveness to standard therapy.
PMCID: PMC3262692  PMID: 21617201
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; β2-adrenergic receptors
10.  The Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor Mediates Vascular Effects of Inhaled Vehicle Emissions 
Rationale: To determine vascular signaling pathways involved in inhaled air pollution (vehicular engine emission) exposure–induced exacerbation of atherosclerosis that are associated with onset of clinical cardiovascular events.
Objectives: To elucidate the role of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) and its primary receptor on endothelial cells, the lectin-like oxLDL receptor (LOX-1), in regulation of endothelin-1 expression and matrix metalloproteinase activity associated with inhalational exposure to vehicular engine emissions.
Methods: Atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E knockout mice were exposed by inhalation to filtered air or mixed whole engine emissions (250 μg particulate matter [PM]/m3 diesel + 50 μg PM/m3 gasoline exhausts) 6 h/d for 7 days. Concurrently, mice were treated with either mouse IgG or neutralizing antibodies to LOX-1 every other day. Vascular and plasma markers of oxidative stress and expression proatherogenic factors were assessed. In a parallel study, healthy human subjects were exposed to either 100 μg PM/m3 diesel whole exhaust or high-efficiency particulate air and charcoal-filtered “clean” air (control subjects) for 2 hours, on separate occasions.
Measurements and Main Results: Mixed emissions exposure increased oxLDL and vascular reactive oxygen species, as well as LOX-1, matrix metalloproteinase-9, and endothelin-1 mRNA expression and also monocyte/macrophage infiltration, each of which was attenuated with LOX-1 antibody treatment. In a parallel study, diesel exhaust exposure in volunteer human subjects induced significant increases in plasma-soluble LOX-1.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that acute exposure to vehicular source pollutants results in up-regulation of vascular factors associated with progression of atherosclerosis, endothelin-1, and matrix metalloproteinase-9, mediated through oxLDL–LOX-1 receptor signaling, which may serve as a novel target for future therapy.
PMCID: PMC3172889  PMID: 21493736
atherosclerosis; particulate matter; endothelin-1; matrix metalloproteinase; oxidized low-density lipoprotein
11.  Inflammation, Mucous Cell Metaplasia, and Bcl-2 Expression in Response to Inhaled Lipopolysaccharide Aerosol and Effect of Rolipram 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2011;253(3):253-260.
Our previous studies have characterized the inflammatory response of intratracheally instilled lipopolysaccharides (LPS) in F344/N rats. To better reflect the environmentally relevant form of LPS exposure, the present study evaluated the inflammatory response of F344/N rats exposed to LPS by inhalation. Rats were exposed by nose-only inhalation to aerosolized LPS at a median particle diameter of 1 μm and a dose range from 0.08 to 480 μg. Animals were sacrificed 72 h post exposure and the inflammatory cell counts and differentials, the cytokine/chemokine levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and the changes in intraepithelial stored mucosubstances, mucous cells per mm basal lamina, and Bcl-2-positive mucous cells were quantified. We observed a dose-dependent increase reaching maximum values at the 75μg LPS dose for the numbers of neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes, for the levels of IL-6, IL-1α, IL-1β, TNFα, MCP-1 and GRO-KC. In addition, mucous cell metaplasia and the percentage of Bcl-2-positive mucous cells were increased with increasing deposited LPS dose. When rats were treated with the phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) inhibitor, rolipram (10 mg/kg), prior to exposure to aerosolized LPS neutrophil numbers in the BAL were reduced at 8 h but not at 24 or 72 h post LPS exposure. These results demonstrate that exposure to aerosolized LPS resulted in a more potent inflammatory response at lower doses and that inflammation was more uniformly distributed throughout the lung compared to inflammation caused by intratracheal LPS instillation. Therefore, this animal model will be useful for screening efficacy of anti-inflammatory drugs.
PMCID: PMC3103593  PMID: 21504754
pulmonary inflammation; airway epithelial hyperplasia; mucous cell metaplasia; apoptosis; phosphodiesterase inhibitor
12.  Formation of Vascular S-Nitrosothiols and Plasma Nitrates/Nitrites Following Inhalation of Diesel Emissions 
Epidemiological studies have associated traffic-related airborne pollution with adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Nitric oxide (NO) is a common component of fresh diesel and gasoline engine emissions that rapidly transforms both in the atmosphere and once inhaled. Because of this rapid transformation, limited information is available in terms of potential human exposures and adverse health effects. Young rats were exposed to whole diesel emissions (DE) adjusted to 300 µg/m3 of particulate matter (containing 3.5 ppm NO) or 0, 3, or 10 ppm NO as a positive control. Animals were also pre-injected (i.p.) with either saline or n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), a precursor of glutathione. Predictably, pure NO exposures led to a concentration-dependent increase in plasma nitrates compared to controls, which lasted for roughly 4 hr post-exposure. Whole DE exposure for 1 hr also led to a doubling of plasma NOx. NAC injection increased the levels of plasma nitrates and nitrites (NOx) in the DE exposure group. Inhibition of NOS by L-NNA did not block the rise in plasma NOx, demonstrating that the increase was entirely due to exogenous sources. Both DE and pure NO exposures paradoxically led to elevated eNOS expression in aortic tissue. Furthermore, coronary arterioles from NO-exposed animals exhibited greater constriction to endothelin-1 compared to controls, consistent with a derangement of the NOS system. Thus, NO may be an important contributor to traffic-related cardiovascular morbidity although further research is necessary for proper hazard identification.
PMCID: PMC3227398  PMID: 21598168
Nitric Oxide; air pollution; cardiovascular; diesel exhaust; eNOS; n-acetyl-cysteine
13.  Inhalation Exposure Systems for the Development of Rodent Models of Sulfur Mustard-Induced Pulmonary Injury 
Sulfur mustard (SM) is a chemical threat agent for which its effects have no current treatment. Due to the ease of synthesis and dispersal of this material, the need to develop therapeutics is evident. The present manuscript details the techniques used to develop SM laboratory exposure systems for the development of animal models of pulmonary injury. These models are critical for evaluating SM injury and developing therapeutics against that injury. Iterative trials were conducted to optimize a lung injury model. The resulting pathology was used as a guide, with a goal of effecting homogeneous and diffuse lung injury comparable to that of human injury. Inhalation exposures were conducted by either nose-only inhalation or intubated inhalation. The exposures were conducted to either directly vaporized SM or SM that was nebulized from an ethanol solution. Inhalation of SM by nose-only inhalation resulted in severe nasal epithelial degeneration and minimal lung injury. The reactivity of SM did not permit it to transit past the upper airways to promote lower airway injury. Intratracheal inhalation of SM vapors at a concentration of 5400 mg · min/m3 resulted in homogeneous lung injury with no nasal degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3154732  PMID: 20025432
Aerosol; Inhalation; Rodents; Sulfur Mustard
15.  Engine-Operating Load Influences Diesel Exhaust Composition and Cardiopulmonary and Immune Responses 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;119(8):1136-1141.
Background: The composition of diesel engine exhaust (DEE) varies by engine type and condition, fuel, engine operation, and exhaust after treatment such as particle traps. DEE has been shown to increase inflammation, susceptibility to infection, and cardiovascular responses in experimentally exposed rodents and humans. Engines used in these studies have been operated at idle, at different steady-state loads, or on variable-load cycles, but exposures are often reported only as the mass concentration of particulate matter (PM), and the effects of different engine loads and the resulting differences in DEE composition are unknown.
Objectives: We assessed the impacts of load-related differences in DEE composition on models of inflammation, susceptibility to infection, and cardiovascular toxicity.
Methods: We assessed inflammation and susceptibility to viral infection in C57BL/6 mice and cardiovascular toxicity in APOE–/– mice after being exposed to DEE generated from a single-cylinder diesel generator operated at partial or full load.
Results: At the same PM mass concentration, partial load resulted in higher proportions of particle organic carbon content and a smaller particle size than did high load. Vapor-phase hydrocarbon content was greater at partial load. Compared with high-load DEE, partial-load DEE caused greater responses in heart rate and T-wave morphology, in terms of both magnitude and rapidity of onset of effects, consistent with previous findings that systemic effects may be driven largely by the gas phase of the exposure atmospheres. However, high-load DEE caused more lung inflammation and greater susceptibility to viral infection than did partial load.
Conclusions: Differences in engine load, as well as other operating variables, are important determinants of the type and magnitude of responses to inhaled DEE. PM mass concentration alone is not a sufficient basis for comparing or combining results from studies using DEE generated under different conditions.
PMCID: PMC3237353  PMID: 21524982
diesel exhaust; modeling; mouse; particulate matter; viral
16.  Levofloxacin Cures Experimental Pneumonic Plague in African Green Monkeys 
Yersinia pestis, the agent of plague, is considered a potential bioweapon due to rapid lethality when delivered as an aerosol. Levofloxacin was tested for primary pneumonic plague treatment in a nonhuman primate model mimicking human disease.
Methods and Results
Twenty-four African Green monkeys (AGMs, Chlorocebus aethiops) were challenged via head-only aerosol inhalation with 3–145 (mean = 65) 50% lethal (LD50) doses of Y. pestis strain CO92. Telemetered body temperature >39°C initiated intravenous infusions to seven 5% dextrose controls or 17 levofloxacin treated animals. Levofloxacin was administered as a “humanized” dose regimen of alternating 8 mg/kg and 2 mg/kg 30-min infusions every 24-h, continuing until animal death or 20 total infusions, followed by 14 days of observation. Fever appeared at 53–165 h and radiographs found multilobar pneumonia in all exposed animals. All control animals died of severe pneumonic plague within five days of aerosol exposure. All 16 animals infused with levofloxacin for 10 days survived. Levofloxacin treatment abolished bacteremia within 24 h in animals with confirmed pre-infusion bacteremia, and reduced tachypnea and leukocytosis but not fever during the first 2 days of infusions.
Levofloxacin cures established pneumonic plague when treatment is initiated after the onset of fever in the lethal aerosol-challenged AGM nonhuman primate model, and can be considered for treatment of other forms of plague. Levofloxacin may also be considered for primary presumptive-use, multi-agent antibiotic in bioterrorism events prior to identification of the pathogen.
Author Summary
Yersinia pestis is the causative agent of bubonic plague as well as a rare severe form known as primary pneumonic plague resulting from the inhalation of contaminated aerosols. The relative ease of aerosol preparation and high virulence makes Y. pestis a dangerous bioweapon. The current study describes the treatment of established pneumonic plague with the widely available, broad-spectrum fluoroquinolone antibiotic levofloxacin in a nonhuman primate model. African green monkeys inhaled a target dose of 100 lethal doses for 50% of animals (LD50) and were monitored for fever and vital signs by telemetry. Fever was the first sign of illness, correlating with bacteremia but preceding radiographic pneumonia, and initiated intravenous levofloxacin treatment in doses designed to mimic antibiotic levels achieved in humans. All animals treated with saline died and all animals completing 10 days of treatment survived, with resolution of high fever within 24–48 hours. We conclude that levofloxacin may be an appropriate broad-spectrum antibiotic for presumptive therapy in an aerosolized bioweapons attack and should be studied for treatment of bubonic plague.
PMCID: PMC3035670  PMID: 21347450
17.  Inhaled Diesel Emissions Alter Atherosclerotic Plaque Composition in ApoE−/− Mice 
Recent epidemiological studies suggest that traffic-related air pollution may have detrimental effects on cardiovascular health. Previous studies reveal that gasoline emissions can induce several enzyme pathways involved in the formation and development of atherosclerotic plaques. As a direct comparison, the present study examined the impact of diesel engine emissions on these pathways, and further examined the effects on vascular lesion pathology. Apolipoprotein E-null mice were simultaneously placed on a high fat chow diet and exposed to four concentrations, plus a high concentration exposure with particulates (PM) removed by filtration, of diesel emissions for 6 h/d for 50 days. Aortas were subsequently assayed for alteration in matrix metalloproteinase-9, endothelin-1, and several other biomarkers. Diesel induced dose-related alterations in gene markers of vascular remodeling and aortic lipid peroxidation; filtration of PM did not significantly alter these vascular responses, indicating that the gaseous portion of the exhaust was a principal driver. Immunohistochemical analysis of aortic leaflet sections revealed no net increase in lesion area, but a significant decrease in lipid-rich regions and increasing trends in macrophage accumulation and collagen content, suggesting that plaques were advanced to a more fragile, potentially more vulnerable state by diesel exhaust exposure. Combined with previous studies, these results indicate that whole emissions from mobile sources may have a significant role in promoting chronic vascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2813974  PMID: 19891982
Particulate Matter; Vascular Inflammation; Air Pollution; Inhalation
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2009;241(3):253-259.
In these studies the immunotoxicity of arsenic trioxide (ATO, As2O3) was evaluated in mice following 14 days of inhalation exposures (nose only, 3 hrs per day) at concentrations of 50 μg/m3 and 1 mg/m3. A biodistribution analysis performed immediately after inhalation exposures revealed highest levels of arsenic in the kidneys, bladder, liver, and lung. Spleen cell levels were comparable to those found in the blood, with the highest concentration of arsenic detected in the spleen being 150 μg/mg tissue following the 1 mg/m3 exposures. No spleen cell cytotoxicity was observed at either of the two exposure levels. There were no changes in spleen cell surface marker expression for B cells, T cells, macrophages, and natural killer (NK) cells. There were also no changes detected in the B cell (LPS-stimulated) and T cell (Con A-stimulated) proliferative responses of spleen cells, and no changes were found in the NK-mediated lysis of Yac-1 target cells. The primary T-dependent antibody response was, however, found to be highly susceptible to ATO suppression. Both the 50 μg/m3 and 1 mg/m3 exposures produced greater than 70% suppression of the humoral immune response to sheep red blood cells. Thus, the primary finding of this study is that the T-dependent humoral immune response is extremely sensitive to suppression by ATO and assessment of humoral immune responses should be considered in evaluating the health effects of arsenic containing agents.
PMCID: PMC2843624  PMID: 19800901
Particulate matter less than 10 μm (PM10) has been shown to be associated with aggravation of asthma and respiratory and cardiopulmonary morbidity. There is also great interest in the potential health effects of PM 2.5. Particulate matter (PM) varies in composition both spatially and temporally depending on the source, location and seasonal condition. El Paso County which lies in the Paso del Norte airshed is a unique location to study ambient air pollution due to three major points: the geological land formation, the relatively large population and the various sources of PM. In this study, dichotomous filters were collected from various sites in El Paso County every seven days for a period of one year. The sampling sites were both distant and near border crossings, which are near heavily populated areas with high traffic volume. Fine (PM2.5) and Coarse (PM10-2.5) PM filter samples were extracted using dichloromethane and were assessed for biologic activity and polycyclic aromatic (PAH) content. Three sets of marker genes human BEAS2B bronchial epithelial cells were utilized to assess the effects of airborne PAHs on biologic activities associated with specific biological pathways associated with airway diseases. These pathways included in inflammatory cytokine production (IL-6, IL-8), oxidative stress (HMOX-1, NQO-1, ALDH3A1, AKR1C1), and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-dependent signaling (CYP1A1). Results demonstrated interesting temporal and spatial patterns of gene induction for all pathways, particularly those associated with oxidative stress, and significant differences in the PAHs detected in the PM10-2.5 and PM 2.5 fractions. Temporally, the greatest effects on gene induction were observed in winter months, which appeared to correlate with inversions that are common in the air basin. Spatially, the greatest gene expression increases were seen in extracts collected from the central most areas of El Paso which are also closest to highways and border crossings.
PMCID: PMC2717704  PMID: 19410595
asthma; lung oxidative stress; PM; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; border air samples
20.  A Comparison of Vascular Effects from Complex and Individual Air Pollutants Indicates a Role for Monoxide Gases and Volatile Hydrocarbons 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(7):921-927.
Emerging evidence suggests that the systemic vasculature may be a target of inhaled pollutants of vehicular origin. We have identified several murine markers of vascular toxicity that appear sensitive to inhalation exposures to combustion emissions.
We sought to examine the relative impact of various pollutant atmospheres and specific individual components on these markers of altered vascular transcription and lipid peroxidation.
Apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE−/−) mice were exposed to whole combustion emissions (gasoline, diesel, coal, hardwood), biogenically derived secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), or prominent combustion-source gases [nitric oxide (NO), NO2, carbon monoxide (CO)] for 6 hr/day for 7 days. Aortas were assayed for transcriptional alterations of endothelin-1 (ET-1), matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2), and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), along with measures of vascular lipid peroxides (LPOs) and gelatinase activity.
We noted transcriptional alterations with exposures to gasoline and diesel emissions. Interestingly, ET-1 and MMP-9 transcriptional effects could be recreated by exposure to CO and NO, but not NO2 or SOAs. Gelatinase activity aligned with levels of volatile hydrocarbons and also monoxide gases. Neither gases nor particles induced vascular LPO despite potent effects from whole vehicular emissions.
In this head-to-head comparison of the effects of several pollutants and pollutant mixtures, we found an important contribution to vascular toxicity from readily bioavailable monoxide gases and possibly from volatile hydrocarbons. These data support a role for traffic-related pollutants in driving cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality.
PMCID: PMC2920910  PMID: 20197249
atherosclerosis; carbon monoxide; cardiovascular; lipid peroxidation; nitric oxide; particulate matter; vascular remodeling; zymography
21.  Concentration and Particle Size of Airborne Toxic Algae (Brevetoxin) Derived from Ocean Red Tide Events 
Environmental science & technology  2005;39(10):3443-3449.
Red tides in the Gulf of Mexico are formed by blooms of the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which produces brevetoxins (PbTx). Brevetoxins can be transferred from water to air in the wind-powered whitecapped waves during red tide episodes. Inhalation exposure to marine aerosol containing PbTx causes respiratory problems. A liquid chromatograph/ tandem mass spectrometric method was developed for the detection and quantitation of several PbTxs in ambient samples collected during red tide events. This method was complemented by a previously developed antibody assay that analyzes the entire class of PbTx compounds. The method showed good linearity, accuracy, and reproducibility, allowing quantitation of PbTx compounds in the 10 pg/m3 range. Air concentrations of PbTxs and brevenal for individual samples ranged from 0.01 to 80 ng/m3. The particle size showed a single mode with a mass median diameter between 6 and 10 μm, which was consistent for all of the PbTx species that were measured. Our results imply that individual PbTxs were from the same marine aerosol or from marine aerosol that was produced from the same process. The particle size indicated the likelihood of high deposition efficiency in the respiratory tract with the majority of aerosol deposited in the upper airways and small but not insignificant deposition in the lower airways.
PMCID: PMC2652738  PMID: 15954221
22.  Lung Toxicity of Ambient Particulate Matter from Southeastern U.S. Sites with Different Contributing Sources: Relationships between Composition and Effects 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2006;114(9):1387-1393.
Exposure to air pollution and, more specifically, particulate matter (PM) is associated with adverse health effects. However, the specific PM characteristics responsible for biological effects have not been defined.
In this project we examined the composition, sources, and relative toxicity of samples of PM with aerodynamic diameter ≥2.5 μm (PM2.5) collected from sites within the Southeastern Aerosol Research and Characterization (SEARCH) air monitoring network during two seasons. These sites represent four areas with differing sources of PM2.5, including local urban versus regional sources, urban areas with different contributions of transportation and industrial sources, and a site influenced by Gulf of Mexico weather patterns.
We collected samples from each site during the winter and summer of 2004 for toxicity testing and for chemical analysis and chemical mass balance–based source apportionment. We also collected PM2.5 downwind of a series of prescribed forest burns. We assessed the toxicity of the samples by instillation into rat lungs and assessed general toxicity, acute cytotoxicity, and inflammation. Statistical dose–response modeling techniques were used to rank the relative toxicity and compare the seasonal differences at each site. Projection-to-latent-surfaces (PLS) techniques examined the relationships among sources, chemical composition, and toxicologic end points.
Results and conclusions
Urban sites with high contributions from vehicles and industry were most toxic.
PMCID: PMC1570075  PMID: 16966093
chemical mass balance; intratracheal instillation; in vivo; lung; particulate matter; PM2.5; projection to latent surfaces; source apportionment
23.  Inhalation Toxicity of Brevetoxin 3 in Rats Exposed for Twenty-Two Days 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2005;113(5):626-631.
Brevetoxins are potent neurotoxins produced by the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. Exposure to brevetoxins may occur during a K. brevis red tide when the compounds become aerosolized by wind and surf. This study assessed possible adverse health effects associated with inhalation exposure to brevetoxin 3, one of the major brevetoxins produced by K. brevis and present in aerosols collected along beaches affected by red tide. Male F344 rats were exposed to brevetoxin 3 at 0, 37, and 237 μg/m3 by nose-only inhalation 2 hr/day, 5 days/week for up to 22 exposure days. Estimated deposited brevetoxin 3 doses were 0.9 and 5.8 μg/kg/day for the low-and high-dose groups, respectively. Body weights of the high-dose group were significantly below control values. There were no clinical signs of toxicity. Terminal body weights of both low- and high-dose-group rats were significantly below control values. Minimal alveolar macrophage hyperplasia was observed in three of six and six of six of the low- and high-dose groups, respectively. No histopathologic lesions were observed in the nose, brain, liver, or bone marrow of any group. Reticulocyte numbers in whole blood were significantly increased in the high-dose group, and mean corpuscular volume showed a significant decreasing trend with increasing exposure concentration. Humoral-mediated immunity was suppressed in brevetoxin-exposed rats as indicated by significant reduction in splenic plaque-forming cells in both low- and high-dose-group rats compared with controls. Results indicate that the immune system is the primary target for toxicity in rats after repeated inhalation exposure to relatively high concentrations of brevetoxins.
PMCID: PMC1257559  PMID: 15866775
brevetoxin; immunotoxicity; inhalation; neurotoxicity; rats
24.  Relationship between Composition and Toxicity of Motor Vehicle Emission Samples 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(15):1527-1538.
In this study we investigated the statistical relationship between particle and semivolatile organic chemical constituents in gasoline and diesel vehicle exhaust samples, and toxicity as measured by inflammation and tissue damage in rat lungs and mutagenicity in bacteria. Exhaust samples were collected from “normal” and “high-emitting” gasoline and diesel light-duty vehicles. We employed a combination of principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least-squares regression (PLS; also known as projection to latent structures) to evaluate the relationships between chemical composition of vehicle exhaust and toxicity. The PLS analysis revealed the chemical constituents covarying most strongly with toxicity and produced models predicting the relative toxicity of the samples with good accuracy. The specific nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons important for mutagenicity were the same chemicals that have been implicated by decades of bioassay-directed fractionation. These chemicals were not related to lung toxicity, which was associated with organic carbon and select organic compounds that are present in lubricating oil. The results demonstrate the utility of the PCA/PLS approach for evaluating composition–response relationships in complex mixture exposures and also provide a starting point for confirming causality and determining the mechanisms of the lung effects.
PMCID: PMC1247617  PMID: 15531438
diesel exhaust; gasoline exhaust; hopane; mutagenicity; PAHs; particulate matter health effects; principal component analysis; semivolatile organic carbon; sterane; toxicity of motor vehicle emissions
25.  Effects of Low Sulfur Fuel and a Catalyzed Particle Trap on the Composition and Toxicity of Diesel Emissions 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(13):1307-1312.
In this study we compared a “baseline” condition of uncontrolled diesel engine exhaust (DEE) emissions generated with current (circa 2003) certification fuel to an emissions-reduction (ER) case with low sulfur fuel and a catalyzed particle trap. Lung toxicity assessments (resistance to respiratory viral infection, lung inflammation, and oxidative stress) were performed on mice (C57Bl/6) exposed by inhalation (6 hr/day for 7 days). The engine was operated identically (same engine load) in both cases, and the inhalation exposures were conducted at the same exhaust dilution rate. For baseline DEE, this dilution resulted in a particle mass (PM) concentration of approximately 200 μg/m3 PM, whereas the ER reduced the PM and almost every other measured constituent [except nitrogen oxides (NOx)] to near background levels in the exposure atmospheres. These measurements included PM, PM size distribution, PM composition (carbon, ions, elements), NOx, carbon monoxide, speciated/total volatile hydrocarbons, and several classes of semi-volatile organic compounds. After exposure concluded, one group of mice was immediately sacrificed and assessed for inflammation and oxidative stress in lung homogenate. Another group of mice were intratracheally instilled with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and RSV lung clearance and inflammation was assessed 4 days later. Baseline DEE produced statistically significant biological effects for all measured parameters. The use of low sulfur fuel and a catalyzed trap either completely or nearly eliminated the effects.
PMCID: PMC1247521  PMID: 15345344
diesel exhaust; emissions reduction; health effects; metals; organic carbon; particulate matter health effects

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