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Res Rep Health Eff Inst. 1997 Jun;(78):1-37; discussion 81-99.

Effects of ozone on normal and potentially sensitive human subjects. Part I: Airway inflammation and responsiveness to ozone in normal and asthmatic subjects.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


We report here the results of a multiphase project to assess the significance of airway responsiveness and airway injury in ozone (O3)* sensitivity. In Phase I, we measured the preexposure methacholine responsiveness of 66 normal subjects and then exposed these subjects to 0.2 ppm O3 for 4 hours with moderate exercise. Preexposure methacholine responsiveness was weakly correlated with O3-induced increases in specific airway resistance (sRaw) but not O3-induced declines in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) or forced vital capacity (FVC). In addition, O3-induced lower respiratory symptoms were not well correlated with O3-induced changes in lung function. In Phase II, we exposed 23 normal subjects to O3, following an identical protocol to that of Phase I, and then performed bronchoscopy with proximal airway lavage (PAL), bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and bronchial biopsy at 18 hours after exposure. Ozone-induced increases in percentage of neutrophils and total protein concentration were observed in both bronchial fraction and BAL fluids; increased percentage of neutrophils also was observed in PAL fluid. These increases were correlated with O3-induced increases in sRaw, but not with O3-induced declines in FEV1 or FVC. Ozone also appeared to increase expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, an important mediator of neutrophil recruitment, in bronchial mucosa. In Phase III, we exposed a group of 19 asthmatic subjects to O3, following a protocol identical to that of Phase II. We then compared the lower respiratory symptom and lung function responses of the asthmatic subjects to those of the 81 normal subjects who participated in Phase I, Phase II, or both. The changes in the PAL and BAL fluids of the asthmatic subjects were compared with those of the normal subjects who participated in Phase II. Although both the asthmatic and nonasthmatic subjects showed significant O3-induced changes in lower respiratory symptoms, FEV1, FVC, and sRaw, no significant differences were found between the groups. For sRaw, however, a nonsignificant trend toward a greater O3-induced increase was noted for the asthmatic subjects. In contrast, the O3-induced increases in percentage of neutrophils and total protein concentration in BAL fluid were significantly greater for the asthmatic subjects than for the nonasthmatic subjects. These data suggest that although the lower respiratory symptom and lung function responses to O3 are not markedly greater in asthmatic subjects than in healthy subjects, the inflammatory response of the asthmatic lung may be more intense.

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