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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2013 Mar;23(2):183-9. doi: 10.1038/jes.2012.68. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Utility of urinary Clara cell protein (CC16) to demonstrate increased lung epithelial permeability in non-smokers exposed to outdoor secondhand smoke.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Science, College of Public Health, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-2102, USA.


The objective of this study was to assess the utility of urinary Clara cell protein (CC16) as a biomarker of increased lung epithelial permeability in non-smokers exposed to outdoor secondhand smoke. Twenty-eight healthy non-smoking adults visited outdoor patios of a restaurant and a bar where non-participants smoked and an open-air control with no smokers on three weekend days in a crossover study; subjects visited each site once for 3 h. Urine samples were collected at baseline, immediately post exposure and next morning, and analyzed for CC16. Changes in CC16 across location types or with cigarette count were analyzed using mixed-effect models, which included all subjects and stratified by gender. Urinary CC16 was higher in males (n=9) compared with females (n=18) at all measurement occasions (P<0.002), possibly reflecting prostatic contamination. Urinary CC16 from pre-exposure to post-exposure was higher following visits to restaurant and bar sites compared with the control among females but this increase did not reach statistical significance. Post-exposure to pre-exposure urinary CC16 ratios among females increased with cigarette count (P=0.048). Exposure-related increases in urinary CC16 were not seen among males. In conclusion, urinary CC16 may be a useful biomarker of increased lung epithelial permeability among female non-smokers; further work will be required to evaluate its applicability to males.

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