Background: Epidemiological evidence demonstrates that exposure to traffic-derived pollution worsens respiratory symptoms in asthmatics, but controlled human exposure studies have failed to provide a mechanism for this effect. Here we investigated whether diesel exhaust (DE) would induce apoptosis or proliferation in the bronchial epithelium in vivo and thus contribute to respiratory symptoms.
Methods: Moderate (n = 16) and mild (n = 16) asthmatics, atopic non-asthmatic controls (rhinitics) (n = 13) and healthy controls (n = 21) were exposed to filtered air or DE (100 μg/m 3 ) for 2 h, on two separate occasions. Bronchial biopsies were taken 18 h post-exposure and immunohistochemically analysed for pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic proteins (Bad, Bak, p85 PARP, Fas, Bcl-2) and a marker of proliferation (Ki67). Positive staining was assessed within the epithelium using computerized image analysis.
Results: No evidence of epithelial apoptosis or proliferation was observed in healthy, allergic or asthmatic airways following DE challenge.
Conclusion: In the present study, we investigated whether DE exposure would affect markers of proliferation and apoptosis in the bronchial epithelium of asthmatics, rhinitics and healthy controls, providing a mechanistic basis for the reported increased airway sensitivity in asthmatics to air pollutants. In this first in vivo exposure investigation, we found no evidence of diesel exhaust-induced effects on these processes in the subject groups investigated.
2015. Vol. 15, 99