Response of macaque bronchiolar epithelium to ambient concentrations of ozone

Jack R. Harkema, Charles G. Plopper, Dallas M. Hyde, Judith A. St. George, Dennis W. Wilson, Donald L. Dungworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Recently, we reported that exposure to ambient concentrations of ozone, near the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standard (0.12 ppm), induced significant nasal epithelial lesions in a non-human primate, the bonnet monkey. The present study defines the effects of ambient concentrations of ozone on the surface epithelium lining respiratory bronchioles and on the underlying bronchiolar interstitium in these same monkeys. Bonnet monkeys were exposed to filtered air or to 0.15 or 0.30 ppm ozone 8 hours/day for 6 or 90 days. At the end of exposures, monkeys were anesthetized and killed by exsanguination. Microdissected bronchiolar airways of infusion-fixed lungs were evaluated morphometrically by light microscopy and quantitatively by scanning and transmission electron microscopy for ozone-induced epithelial changes. Hyperplasia of non-ciliated, cuboidal epithelial cells and intraluminal accumulation of macrophages characterized ozone-induced lesions in respiratory bronchioles. There were no significant differences in epithelial thickness or cell numbers among ozone-exposed groups. Ozone-exposed epithelium was composed of 80% cuboidal and 20% squamous cells compared with 40% cuboidal and 60% squamous cells in filtered air controls. In addition, the arithmetic mean thickness of the surface epithelium, a measure of tissue mass per unit area of basal lamina, was significantly increased in all of the ozone-exposed groups. The number of cuboidal epithelial cells per surface area of basal lamina was increased above control values by 780% after 6 days exposure to 0.15 ppm, 777% after 90 days to 0.15 ppm, and 996% after 90 days exposure to 0.30 ppm. There was also a significant ozone-induced increase in the thickness of the bronchiolar interstitium that was due to an increase in both cellular and acellular components. These results demonstrate that exposure to low ambient concentrations of ozone, near the current. National Ambient Air Quality Standard, induces pulmonary lesions in primates. The alterations do not appear to be concentration- or time-dependent, suggesting that the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard may be at or above the threshold for deep lung injury in primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-866
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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