Persistent rhinitis and epithelial remodeling induced by cyclic ozone exposure in the nasal airways of infant monkeys

Stephan A. Carey, Carol A. Ballinger, Charles G. Plopper, Ruth J McDonald, Alfred A. Bartolucci, Edward M. Postlethwait, Jack R. Harkema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Children chronically exposed to high levels of ozone (O3), the principal oxidant pollutant in photochemical smog, are more vulnerable to respiratory illness and infections. The specific factors underlying this differential susceptibility are unknown but may be related to air pollutant-induced nasal alterations during postnatal development that impair the normal physiological functions (e.g., filtration and mucociliary clearance) serving to protect the more distal airways from inhaled xenobiotics. In adult animal models, chronic ozone exposure is associated with adaptations leading to a decrease in airway injury. The purpose of our study was to determine whether cyclic ozone exposure induces persistent morphological and biochemical effects on the developing nasal airways of infant monkeys early in life. Infant (180-day-old) rhesus macaques were exposed to 5 consecutive days of O 3 [0.5 parts per million (ppm), 8 h/day; "1-cycle"] or filtered air (FA) or 11 biweekly cycles of O3 (FA days 1-9; 0.5 ppm, 8 h/day on days 10-14; "11-cycle"). The left nasal passage was processed for light microscopy and morphometric analysis. Mucosal samples from the right nasal passage were processed for GSH, GSSG, ascorbate (AH 2), and uric acid (UA) concentration. Eleven-cycle O3 induced persistent rhinitis, squamous metaplasia, and epithelial hyperplasia in the anterior nasal airways of infant monkeys, resulting in a 39% increase in the numeric density of epithelial cells. Eleven-cycle O3 also induced a 65% increase in GSH concentrations at this site. The persistence of epithelial hyperplasia was positively correlated with changes in GSH. These results indicate that early life ozone exposure causes persistent nasal epithelial alterations in infant monkeys and provide a potential mechanism for the increased susceptibility to respiratory illness exhibited by children in polluted environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Air pollution
  • Children
  • Epithelial hyperplasia
  • Glutathione
  • Nasal epithelium
  • Squamous metaplasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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