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1.  Radical-Containing Ultrafine Particulate Matter Initiates Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transitions in Airway Epithelial Cells 
Environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) in combustion-generated particulate matter (PM) are capable of inducing pulmonary pathologies and contributing to the development of environmental asthma. In vivo exposure of infant rats to EPFRs demonstrates their ability to induce airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine, a hallmark of asthma. However, the mechanisms by which combustion-derived EPFRs elicit in vivo responses remain elusive. In this study, we used a chemically defined EPFR consisting of approximately 0.2 μm amorphrous silica containing 3% cupric oxide with the organic pollutant 1,2-dichlorobenzene (DCB-230). DCB-230 possesses similar radical content to urban-collected EPFRs but offers several advantages, including lack of contaminants and chemical uniformity. DCB-230 was readily taken up by BEAS-2B and at high doses (200 μg/cm2) caused substantial necrosis. At low doses (20 μg/cm2), DCB-230 particles caused lysosomal membrane permeabilization, oxidative stress, and lipid peroxidation within 24 hours of exposure. During this period, BEAS-2B underwent epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), including loss of epithelial cell morphology, decreased E-cadherin expression, and increased α–smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and collagen I production. Similar results were observed in neonatal air–liquid interface culture (i.e., disruption of epithelial integrity and EMT). Acute exposure of infant mice to DCB-230 resulted in EMT, as confirmed by lineage tracing studies and evidenced by coexpression of epithelial E-cadherin and mesenchymal α-SMA proteins in airway cells and increased SNAI1 expression in the lungs. EMT in neonatal mouse lungs after EPFR exposure may provide an explanation for epidemiological evidence supporting PM exposure and increased risk of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3604062  PMID: 23087054
particulate matter; epithelial–mesenchymal transition; environmental asthma; pediatric
2.  Particulate Matter Containing Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals and Adverse Infant Respiratory Health Effects: A Review 
The health impacts of airborne particulate matter (PM) are of global concern, and the direct implications to the development/exacerbation of lung disease are immediately obvious. Most studies to date have sought to understand mechanisms associated with PM exposure in adults/adult animal models; however, infants are also at significant risk for exposure. Infants are affected differently than adults due to drastic immaturities, both physiologically and immunologically, and it is becoming apparent that they represent a critically understudied population. Highlighting our work funded by the ONES award, in this review we argue the understated importance of utilizing infant models to truly understand the etiology of PM-induced predisposition to severe, persistent lung disease. We also touch upon various mechanisms of PM-mediated respiratory damage, with a focus on the emerging importance of environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) ubiquitously present in combustion-derived PM. In conclusion, we briefly comment on strengths/challenges facing current PM research, while giving perspective on how we may address these challenges in the future.
PMCID: PMC3580159  PMID: 23281110
Particulate Matter; Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals; Infant; Respiratory Health; Immunomodulation
3.  Maternal exposure to combustion generated PM inhibits pulmonary Th1 maturation and concomitantly enhances postnatal asthma development in offspring 
Epidemiological studies suggest that maternal exposure to environmental hazards, such as particulate matter, is associated with increased incidence of asthma in childhood. We hypothesized that maternal exposure to combustion derived ultrafine particles containing persistent free radicals (MCP230) disrupts the development of the infant immune system and results in aberrant immune responses to allergens and enhances asthma severity.
Pregnant C57/BL6 mice received MCP230 or saline by oropharyngeal aspiration on gestational days 10 and 17. Three days after the second administration, blood was collected from MCP230 or saline treated dams and 8-isoprostanes in the serum were measured to assess maternal oxidative stress. Pulmonary T cell populations were assayed in the infant mice at six days, three and six weeks of postnatal age. When the infant mice matured to adults (i.e. six weeks of age), an asthma model was established with ovalbumin (OVA). Airway inflammation, mucus production and airway hyperresponsiveness were then examined.
Maternal exposure to MCP230 induced systemic oxidative stress. The development of pulmonary T helper (Th1/Th2/Th17) and T regulatory (Treg) cells were inhibited in the infant offspring from MCP230-exposed dams. As the offspring matured, the development of Th2 and Treg cells recovered and eventually became equivalent to that of offspring from non-exposed dams. However, Th1 and Th17 cells remained attenuated through 6 weeks of age. Following OVA sensitization and challenge, mice from MCP230-exposed dams exhibited greater airway hyperresponsiveness, eosinophilia and pulmonary Th2 responses compared to offspring from non-exposed dams.
Our data suggest that maternal exposure to MCP230 enhances postnatal asthma development in mice, which might be related to the inhibition of pulmonary Th1 maturation and systemic oxidative stress in the dams.
PMCID: PMC3717277  PMID: 23856009
Maternal exposure; Particulate matter; Offspring; Asthma
4.  Radical-Containing Particles Activate Dendritic Cells and Enhance Th17 Inflammation in a Mouse Model of Asthma 
We identified a previously unrecognized component of airborne particulate matter (PM) formed in combustion and thermal processes, namely, environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs). The pulmonary health effects of EPFRs are currently unknown. In the present study, we used a model EPFR-containing pollutant-particle system referred to as MCP230. We evaluated the effects of MCP230 on the phenotype and function of bone marrow–derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) in vitro and lung dendritic cells (DCs) in vivo, and the subsequent T-cell response. We also investigated the adjuvant role of MCP230 on airway inflammation in a mouse model of asthma. MCP230 decreased intracellular reduced glutathione (GSH) and the GSH/oxidized glutathione ratio in BMDCs, and up-regulated the expression of costimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86 on DCs. The maturation of DCs was blocked by inhibiting oxidative stress or the uptake of MCP230. BMDCs exposed to MCP230 increased their antigen-specific T-cell proliferation in vitro. In a model of asthma, exposure to MCP230 exacerbated pulmonary inflammation, which was attributed to the increase of neutrophils and macrophages but not eosinophils. This result correlated with an increase in Th17 cells and cytokines, compared with non–MCP230-treated but ovalbumin (OVA)–challenged mice. The percentage of Th2 cells was comparable between OVA and OVA + MCP230 mice. Our data demonstrate that combustion-generated, EPFR-containing PM directly induced the maturation of DCs in an uptake-dependent and oxidative stress–dependent manner. Furthermore, EPFR-containing PM induced a Th17-biased phenotype in lung, accompanied by significant pulmonary neutrophilia. Exposure to EPFR-containing PM may constitute an important and unrecognized risk factor in the exacerbation and development of a severe asthma phenotype in humans.
PMCID: PMC3262685  PMID: 21493781
EPFR; dendritic cell; asthma; Th17; neutrophil
5.  Environmentally persistent free radicals induce airway hyperresponsiveness in neonatal rat lungs 
Increased asthma risk/exacerbation in children and infants is associated with exposure to elevated levels of ultrafine particulate matter (PM). The presence of a newly realized class of pollutants, environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs), in PM from combustion sources suggests a potentially unrecognized risk factor for the development and/or exacerbation of asthma.
Neonatal rats (7-days of age) were exposed to EPFR-containing combustion generated ultrafine particles (CGUFP), non-EPFR containing CGUFP, or air for 20 minutes per day for one week. Pulmonary function was assessed in exposed rats and age matched controls. Lavage fluid was isolated and assayed for cellularity and cytokines and in vivo indicators of oxidative stress. Pulmonary histopathology and characterization of differential protein expression in lung homogenates was also performed.
Neonates exposed to EPFR-containing CGUFP developed significant pulmonary inflammation, and airway hyperreactivity. This correlated with increased levels of oxidative stress in the lungs. Using differential two-dimensional electrophoresis, we identified 16 differentially expressed proteins between control and CGUFP exposed groups. In the rats exposed to EPFR-containing CGUFP; peroxiredoxin-6, cofilin1, and annexin A8 were upregulated.
Exposure of neonates to EPFR-containing CGUFP induced pulmonary oxidative stress and lung dysfunction. This correlated with alterations in the expression of various proteins associated with the response to oxidative stress and the regulation of glucocorticoid receptor translocation in T lymphocytes.
PMCID: PMC3061909  PMID: 21388553

Results 1-5 (5)