The epidemiologic link between air pollutant exposure and asthma has been supported by experimental findings, but the mechanisms are not understood. In this study, we evaluated the impact of combined ozone and house dust mite (HDM) exposure on the immunophenotype of peripheral blood and airway lymphocytes from rhesus macaque monkeys during the postnatal period of development. Starting at 30 days of age, monkeys were exposed to 11 cycles of filtered air, ozone, HDM aerosol, or ozone + HDM aerosol. Each cycle consisted of ozone delivered at 0.5 ppm for 5 days (8 h/day), followed by 9 days of filtered air; animals received HDM aerosol during the last 3 days of each ozone exposure period. Between 2-3 months of age, animals co-exposed to ozone + HDM exhibited a decline in total circulating leukocyte numbers and increased total circulating lymphocyte frequency. At 3 months of age, blood CD4+/CD25+ lymphocytes were increased with ozone + HDM. At 6 months of age, CD4+/CD25+ and CD8+/CD25+ lymphocyte populations increased in both blood and lavage of ozone + HDM animals. Overall volume of CD25+ cells within airway mucosa increased with HDM exposure. Ozone did not have an additive effect on volume of mucosal CD25+ cells in HDM-exposed animals, but did alter the anatomical distribution of this cell type throughout the proximal and distal airways. We conclude that a window of postnatal development is sensitive to air pollutant and allergen exposure, resulting in immunomodulation of peripheral blood and airway lymphocyte frequency and trafficking.
- House dust mite
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