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1.  In vitro determinants of asbestos fiber toxicity: effect on the relative toxicity of Libby amphibole in primary human airway epithelial cells 
Background
An abnormally high incidence of lung disease has been observed in the residents of Libby, Montana, which has been attributed to occupational and environmental exposure to fibrous amphiboles originating from a nearby contaminated vermiculite mine. The composition of Libby amphibole (LA) is complex and minimal toxicity data are available. In this study, we conduct a comparative particle toxicity analysis of LA compared with standard reference asbestiform amphibole samples.
Methods
Primary human airway epithelial cells (HAEC) were exposed to two different LA samples as well as standard amphibole reference samples. Analysis of the samples included a complete particle size distribution analysis, calculation of surface area by electron microscopy and by gas adsorption and quantification of surface-conjugated iron and hydroxyl radical production by the fibers. Interleukin-8 mRNA levels were quantified by qRT-PCR to measure relative pro-inflammatory response induced in HAEC in response to amphibole fiber exposure. The relative contribution of key physicochemical determinants on the observed pro-inflammatory response were also evaluated.
Results
The RTI amosite reference sample contained the longest fibers and demonstrated the greatest potency at increasing IL-8 transcript levels when evaluated on an equal mass basis. The two LA samples and the UICC amosite reference sample consisted of similar particle numbers per milligram as well as similar particle size distributions and induced comparable levels of IL-8 mRNA. A strong correlation was observed between the elongated particle (aspect ratio ≥3:1) dose metrics of length and external surface area. Expression of the IL-8 data with respect to either of these metrics eliminated the differential response between the RTI amosite sample and the other samples that was observed when HAEC were exposed on an equal mass basis.
Conclusions
On an equal mass basis, LA is as potent as the UICC amosite reference sample at inducing a pro-inflammatory response in HAEC but is less potent than the RTI amosite sample. The results of this study show that the particle length and particle surface area are highly correlated metrics that contribute significantly to the toxicological potential of these amphibole samples with respect to the inflammogenic response induced in airway epithelial cells.
doi:10.1186/1743-8977-11-2
PMCID: PMC3892100  PMID: 24401117
Libby amphibole; Airway epithelium; Relative toxicity; Inflammation; Interleukin-8; Dose metrics
2.  Subchronic Pulmonary Pathology, Iron Overload, and Transcriptional Activity after Libby Amphibole Exposure in Rat Models of Cardiovascular Disease 
Background: Surface-available iron (Fe) is proposed to contribute to asbestos-induced toxicity through the production of reactive oxygen species.
Objective: Our goal was to evaluate the hypothesis that rat models of cardiovascular disease with coexistent Fe overload would be increasingly sensitive to Libby amphibole (LA)-induced subchronic lung injury.
Methods: Male healthy Wistar Kyoto (WKY), spontaneously hypertensive (SH), and SH heart failure (SHHF) rats were intratracheally instilled with 0.0, 0.25, or 1.0 mg LA (with saline as the vehicle). We examined bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and histological lung sections after 1 week, 1 month, or 3 months for pulmonary biomarkers and pathology. SHHF rats were also assessed at 6 months for pathological changes.
Results: All animals developed concentration- and time-dependent interstitial fibrosis. Time-dependent Fe accumulation occurred in LA-laden macrophages in all strains but was exacerbated in SHHF rats. LA-exposed SHHF rats developed atypical hyperplastic lesions of bronchiolar epithelial cell origin at 3 and 6 months. Strain-related baseline differences existed in gene expression at 3 months, with persistent LA effects in WKY but not SH or SHHF rats. LA exposure altered genes for a number of pathways, including inflammation, immune regulation, and cell-cycle control. Cell-cycle control genes were inhibited after LA exposure in SH and SHHF but not WKY rats, whereas tumor suppressor genes were induced only in WKY rats. The inflammatory gene expression also was apparent only in WKY rats.
Conclusion: These data show that in Fe-overload conditions, progressive Fe accumulation occurs in fiber-laden macrophages within LA-induced lesions. Fe overload does not appear to contribute to chronic inflammation, and its role in hyperplastic lesion development requires further examination.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1103990
PMCID: PMC3261949  PMID: 21979745
cardiovascular disease; iron overload; Lilly amphibole; pulmonary pathology
3.  Spontaneous Airway Hyperresponsiveness in Estrogen Receptor-α–deficient Mice 
Rationale: Airway hyperresponsiveness is a critical feature of asthma. Substantial epidemiologic evidence supports a role for female sex hormones in modulating lung function and airway hyperresponsiveness in humans.
Objectives: To examine the role of estrogen receptors in modulating lung function and airway responsiveness using estrogen receptor–deficient mice.
Methods: Lung function was assessed by a combination of whole-body barometric plethysmography, invasive measurement of airway resistance, and isometric force measurements in isolated bronchial rings. M2 muscarinic receptor expression was assessed by Western blotting, and function was assessed by electrical field stimulation of tracheas in the presence/absence of gallamine. Allergic airway disease was examined after ovalbumin sensitization and exposure.
Measurements and Main Results: Estrogen receptor-α knockout mice exhibit a variety of lung function abnormalities and have enhanced airway responsiveness to inhaled methacholine and serotonin under basal conditions. This is associated with reduced M2 muscarinic receptor expression and function in the lungs. Absence of estrogen receptor-α also leads to increased airway responsiveness without increased inflammation after allergen sensitization and challenge.
Conclusions: These data suggest that estrogen receptor-α is a critical regulator of airway hyperresponsiveness in mice.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200509-1493OC
PMCID: PMC1899278  PMID: 17095746
lung function; asthma; hyperreactivity; M2 muscarinic receptor; estrogen receptor
4.  Protection from Experimental Asthma by an Endogenous Bronchodilator 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2005;308(5728):1618-1621.
Mechanisms that protect against asthma remain poorly understood. S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), an endogenous bronchodilator, is depleted from asthmatic airways, suggesting a protective role. We report that, following allergen challenge, wild-type mice exhibiting airway hyperresponsivity have increased airway levels of the enzyme GSNO reductase (GSNOR) and are depleted of lung S-nitrosothiols (SNOs). In contrast, mice with genetic deletion of GSNOR exhibit increases in lung SNOs and are protected from airway hyperresponsivity. Our results indicate that endogenous SNOs, governed by GSNOR, are critical regulators of airway responsivity and may provide new therapeutic approaches to asthma.
doi:10.1126/science.1108228
PMCID: PMC2128762  PMID: 15919956
5.  Spontaneous Airway Hyperresponsiveness in Estrogen Receptor-α–deficient Mice 
Rationale
Airway hyperresponsiveness is a critical feature of asthma. Substantial epidemiologic evidence supports a role for female sex hormones in modulating lung function and airway hyperresponsiveness in humans.
Objectives
To examine the role of estrogen receptors in modulating lung function and airway responsiveness using estrogen receptor–deficient mice.
Methods
Lung function was assessed by a combination of whole-body barometric plethysmography, invasive measurement of airway resistance, and isometric force measurements in isolated bronchial rings. M2 muscarinic receptor expression was assessed by Western blotting, and function was assessed by electrical field stimulation of tracheas in the presence/absence of gallamine. Allergic airway disease was examined after ovalbumin sensitization and exposure.
Measurements and Main Results
Estrogen receptor-α knockout mice exhibit a variety of lung function abnormalities and have enhanced airway responsiveness to inhaled methacholine and serotonin under basal conditions. This is associated with reduced M2 muscarinic receptor expression and function in the lungs. Absence of estrogen receptor-α also leads to increased airway responsiveness without increased inflammation after allergen sensitization and challenge.
Conclusions
These data suggest that estrogen receptor-α is a critical regulator of airway hyperresponsiveness in mice.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200509-1493OC
PMCID: PMC1899278  PMID: 17095746
lung function; asthma; hyperreactivity; M2 muscarinic receptor; estrogen receptor
6.  Health and environmental consequences of the world trade center disaster. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(6):731-739.
The attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) created an acute environmental disaster of enormous magnitude. This study characterizes the environmental exposures resulting from destruction of the WTC and assesses their effects on health. Methods include ambient air sampling; analyses of outdoor and indoor settled dust; high-altitude imaging and modeling of the atmospheric plume; inhalation studies of WTC dust in mice; and clinical examinations, community surveys, and prospective epidemiologic studies of exposed populations. WTC dust was found to consist predominantly (95%) of coarse particles and contained pulverized cement, glass fibers, asbestos, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polychlorinated furans and dioxins. Airborne particulate levels were highest immediately after the attack and declined thereafter. Particulate levels decreased sharply with distance from the WTC. Dust pH was highly alkaline (pH 9.0-11.0). Mice exposed to WTC dust showed only moderate pulmonary inflammation but marked bronchial hyperreactivity. Evaluation of 10,116 firefighters showed exposure-related increases in cough and bronchial hyperreactivity. Evaluation of 183 cleanup workers showed new-onset cough (33%), wheeze (18%), and phlegm production (24%). Increased frequency of new-onset cough, wheeze, and shortness of breath were also observed in community residents. Follow-up of 182 pregnant women who were either inside or near the WTC on 11 September showed a 2-fold increase in small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants. In summary, environmental exposures after the WTC disaster were associated with significant adverse effects on health. The high alkalinity of WTC dust produced bronchial hyperreactivity, persistent cough, and increased risk of asthma. Plausible causes of the observed increase in SGA infants include maternal exposures to PAH and particulates. Future risk of mesothelioma may be increased, particularly among workers and volunteers exposed occupationally to asbestos. Continuing follow-up of all exposed populations is required to document the long-term consequences of the disaster.
PMCID: PMC1241968  PMID: 15121517
7.  Metal composition of ambient PM2.5 influences severity of allergic airways disease in mice. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(12):1471-1477.
Children living in Hettstedt in eastern Germany have been reported to have a higher prevalence of sensitization to common aeroallergens than another cohort living in the neighboring city of Zerbst; these differences correlated with the presence of industrial air pollution. Samples of fine particulate matter (< 2.5 micro m aerodynamic diameter; PM(2.5)) collected in Hettstedt in 1999 had several-fold higher levels of zinc, magnesium, lead, copper, and cadmium than samples from Zerbst. To determine if the results from epidemiologic studies could be repeated in an animal model, we administered PM(2.5) from Hettstedt and Zerbst to ovalbumin-allergic mice. In Balb/c mice, PM(2.5) from Hettstedt, but not PM(2.5) from Zerbst or control filter extract, caused a significant increase in immediate responses to ovalbumin challenge when aspirated 2 hr before challenge, but not when aspirated immediately before sensitization 2 weeks earlier. Antigen-specific IgE was increased by Hettstedt PM(2.5) whether administered before sensitization or challenge. Airway responsiveness to methacholine aerosol and lung inflammatory cell numbers were significantly increased only in allergic mice exposed to Hettstedt PM(2.5) before challenge. Both Hettstedt and Zerbst PM(2.5) significantly increased lung injury parameters and proinflammatory cytokines. These results are consistent with epidemiologic findings and show that metal composition of ambient PM(2.5) influences the severity of allergic respiratory disease.
PMCID: PMC1241649  PMID: 12948886
8.  World Trade Center fine particulate matter--chemistry and toxic respiratory effects: an overview. 
The 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on New York City's World Trade Center (WTC) caused an unprecedented environmental emergency. The collapse of the towers sent a tremendous cloud of crushed building materials and other pollutants into the air of lower Manhattan. In response to the calamity, federal, state, and city environmental authorities and research institutes devoted enormous resources to evaluate the impact of WTC-derived air pollution on public health. Unfortunately, on the day of the disaster, no air-sampling monitors were operating close to the WTC site to characterize and quantify pollutants in the dust cloud. However, analysis of fallen dust samples collected 5 and 6 days after the attack showed that 1-4% by weight consisted of particles small enough to be respirable (Lioy et al. 2002). These particles included fine particulate matter, or PM(subscript)2.5(/subscript) [PM < 2.5 micro m mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD)], which can be inhaled deep into the lung and is associated with cardiovascular and respiratory health effects. Because of the extremely high concentrations of dust immediately after the collapse of the towers, even a relatively small proportion of PM(subscript)2.5(/subscript) in the dust clouds could have contributed to breathing problems in rescue workers and others who were not wearing protective masks.
PMCID: PMC1241533  PMID: 12782500
9.  World Trade Center fine particulate matter causes respiratory tract hyperresponsiveness in mice. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(7):981-991.
Pollutants originating from the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City on 11 September 2001 have been reported to cause adverse respiratory responses in rescue workers and nearby residents. We examined whether WTC-derived fine particulate matter [particulate matter with a mass median aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 microm (PM2.5)] has detrimental respiratory effects in mice to contribute to the risk assessment of WTC-derived pollutants. Samples of WTC PM2.5 were derived from settled dust collected at several locations around Ground Zero on 12 and 13 September 2001. Aspirated samples of WTC PM2.5 induced mild to moderate degrees of pulmonary inflammation 1 day after exposure but only at a relatively high dose (100 microg). This response was not as great as that caused by 100 microg PM2.5 derived from residual oil fly ash (ROFA) or Washington, DC, ambient air PM [National Institute of Standards and Technology, Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1649a]. However, this same dose of WTC PM2.5 caused airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine aerosol comparable to that from SRM 1649a and to a greater degree than that from ROFA. Mice exposed to lower doses by aspiration or inhalation exposure did not develop significant inflammation or hyperresponsiveness. These results show that exposure to high levels of WTC PM2.5 can promote mechanisms of airflow obstruction in mice. Airborne concentrations of WTC PM2.5 that would cause comparable doses in people are high (approximately 425 microg/m3 for 8 hr) but conceivable in the aftermath of the collapse of the towers when rescue and salvage efforts were in effect. We conclude that a high-level exposure to WTC PM2.5 could cause pulmonary inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in people. The effects of chronic exposures to lower levels of WTC PM2.5, the persistence of any respiratory effects, and the effects of coarser WTC PM are unknown and were not examined in these studies. Degree of exposure and respiratory protection, individual differences in sensitivity to WTC PM2.5, and species differences in responses must be considered in assessing the risks of exposure to WTC PM2.5.
PMCID: PMC1241535  PMID: 12782502
10.  Chemical analysis of World Trade Center fine particulate matter for use in toxicologic assessment. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(7):972-980.
The catastrophic destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) on 11 September 2001 caused the release of high levels of airborne pollutants into the local environment. To assess the toxicity of fine particulate matter [particulate matter with a mass median aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 microm (PM2.5)], which may adversely affect the health of workers and residents in the area, we collected fallen dust samples on 12 and 13 September 2001 from sites within a half-mile of Ground Zero. Samples of WTC dust were sieved, aerosolized, and size-separated, and the PM2.5 fraction was isolated on filters. Here we report the chemical and physical properties of PM2.5 derived from these samples and compare them with PM2.5 fractions of three reference materials that range in toxicity from relatively inert to acutely toxic (Mt. St. Helens PM; Washington, DC, ambient air PM; and residual oil fly ash). X-ray diffraction of very coarse sieved WTC PM (< 53 microm) identified calcium sulfate (gypsum) and calcium carbonate (calcite) as major components. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed that calcium-sulfur and calcium-carbon particles were also present in the WTC PM2.5 fraction. Analysis of WTC PM2.5 using X-ray fluorescence, neutron activation analysis, and inductively coupled plasma spectrometry showed high levels of calcium (range, 22-33%) and sulfur (37-43% as sulfate) and much lower levels of transition metals and other elements. Aqueous extracts of WTC PM2.5 were basic (pH range, 8.9-10.0) and had no evidence of significant bacterial contamination. Levels of carbon were relatively low, suggesting that combustion-derived particles did not form a significant fraction of these samples recovered in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the towers. Because gypsum and calcite are known to cause irritation of the mucus membranes of the eyes and respiratory tract, inhalation of high doses of WTC PM2.5 could potentially cause toxic respiratory effects.
PMCID: PMC1241534  PMID: 12782501
11.  Allergic lung responses are increased in prostaglandin H synthase–deficient mice 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1999;104(6):721-732.
To investigate the function of prostaglandin H synthase-1 and synthase-2 (PGHS-1 and PGHS-2) in the normal lung and in allergic lung responses, we examined allergen-induced pulmonary inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in wild-type mice and in PGHS-1–/– and PGHS-2–/– mice. Among nonimmunized saline-exposed groups, we found no significant differences in lung function or histopathology, although PGE2 was dramatically reduced in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from PGHS-1–/– mice, relative to wild-type or PGHS-2–/– mice. After ovalbumin sensitization and challenge, lung inflammatory indices (BAL cells, proteins, IgE, lung histopathology) were significantly greater in PGHS-1–/– mice compared with PGHS-2–/– mice, and both were far greater than in wild-type mice, as illustrated by the ratio of eosinophils in BAL fluid (8:5:1, respectively). Both allergic PGHS-1–/– and PGHS-2–/– mice exhibited decreased baseline respiratory system compliance, whereas only allergic PGHS-1–/– mice showed increased baseline resistance and responsiveness to methacholine. Ovalbumin exposure caused a modest increase in lung PGHS-2 protein and a corresponding increase in BAL fluid PGE2 in wild-type mice. We conclude that (a) PGHS-1 is the predominant enzyme that biosynthesizes PGE2 in the normal mouse lung; (b) PGHS-1 and PGHS-2 products limit allergic lung inflammation and IgE secretion and promote normal lung function; and (c) airway inflammation can be dissociated from the development of airway hyperresponsiveness in PGHS-2–/– mice.
PMCID: PMC408432  PMID: 10491407

Results 1-11 (11)