Assessing the health effects and risks associated with children's inhalation exposures - Asthma and allergy

Maryjane K. Selgrade, Charles Plopper, M. Ian Gilmour, Rory B. Conolly, Brenda S.P. Foos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Adults and children may have different reactions to inhalation exposures due to differences in target tissue doses following similar exposures, and/or different stages in lung growth and development. In the case of asthma and allergy both the developing immune system and initial encounters with common allergens contribute to this differential susceptibility. Asthma, the most common chronic childhood disease, has significant public health impacts and is characterized by chronic lung inflammation, reversible airflow obstruction, and immune sensitization to allergens. Animal studies described here suggest that air pollutants exacerbate asthma symptoms and may also play a role in disease induction. Changes characteristic of asthma were observed in rhesus monkeys sensitized to house dust mite antigen (HDMA) as infants and exposed repeatedly thereafter to ozone (O3) and HDMA. O3 exposure compromised airway growth and development and exacerbated the allergen response to favor intermittent airway obstruction and wheeze. In Brown Norway rats a variety of air pollutants enhanced sensitization to HDMA such that symptoms elicited in response to subsequent allergen challenge were more severe. Although useful for assessing air pollutants effects on initial sensitization, the rodent immune system is immature at birth relative to humans, making this model less useful for studying differential effects between adults and children. Because computational models available to address children's inhalation exposures are limited, default adjustments and their associated uncertainty will continue to be used in children's inhalation risk assessment. Because asthma is a complex (multiple genes, phenotypes, organ systems) disease, this area is ripe for systems biology approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-207
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A: Current Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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