We have previously demonstrated that exposure to diesel exhaust particles (DEP) prior to ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization in rats reduced OVA-induced airway inflammation. In the present study, Brown Norway rats were first sensitized to OVA (42.3 +/- 5.7 mg/m(3)) for 30 min on days 1, 8, and 15, then exposed to filtered air or DEP (22.7 +/- 2.5 mg/m(3)) for 4 h/day on days 24-28, and challenged with OVA on day 29. Airway responsiveness was examined on day 30, and animals were sacrificed on day 31. Ovalbumin sensitization and challenge resulted in a significant infiltration of neutrophils, lymphocytes, and eosinophils into the lung, elevated presence of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T lymphocytes in lung draining lymph nodes, and increased production of serum OVA-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)E and IgG. Diesel exhaust particles pre-exposure augmented OVA-induced production of allergen-specific IgE and IgG and pulmonary inflammation characterized by marked increases in T lymphocytes and infiltration of eosinophils after OVA challenge, whereas DEP alone did not have these effects. Although OVA-sensitized rats showed modest response to methacholine challenge, it was the combined DEP and OVA exposure that produced significant airway hyperresponsiveness in this animal model. The effect of DEP pre-exposure on OVA-induced immune responses correlated with an interactive effect of DEP with OVA on increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) by alveolar macrophages (AM) and alveolar type II (ATII) cells, NO levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, the induction of inducible NO synthase expression in AM and ATII cells, and a depletion of total intracellular glutathione (GSH) in AM and lymphocytes. These results show that DEP pre-exposure exacerbates the allergic responses to the subsequent challenge with OVA in OVA-sensitized rats. This DEP effect may be, at least partially, attributed to the elevated generation of ROS in AM and ATII cells, a depletion of GSH in AM and lymphocytes, and an increase in AM and ATII cell production of NO.
Joseph K. H. Ma, School of Pharmacy,West Virginia University, 1 Medical Center Drive, Morgantown, WV 26506-9530