Effects of ozone on normal and potentially sensitive human subjects. Part II: Airway inflammation and responsiveness to ozone in nonsmokers and smokers.

M. W. Frampton, P. E. Morrow, A. Torres, K. Z. Voter, J. C. Whitin, C. Cox, D. M. Speers, Y. Tsai, M. J. Utell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Exposure to ozone at levels near the National Ambient Air Quality Standard causes respiratory symptoms, changes in lung function, and airway inflammation. Although ozone-induced changes in lung function have been well characterized in healthy individuals, the relationship between airway inflammation and changes in pulmonary function have not been prospectively examined. The purpose of this study was to determine whether individuals who differ in, lung function responsiveness to ozone also differ in susceptibility to airway inflammation and injury. A secondary goal was to determine whether ozone exposure induces airway inflammation in smokers, a population known to have airway inflammation and an increased burden of toxic oxygen species. Healthy nonsmokers (n = 56) and smokers (n = 34) were exposed to 0.22 parts per million (ppm)* ozone for 4 hours, with intermittent exercise, for the purpose of selecting ozone "responders" (decrement in forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] > 15%) and "nonresponders" (decrement in FEV1 < 5%). Selected subjects then were exposed twice to ozone (0.22 ppm for 4 hours with exercise) and once to air (with the same exposure protocol), each pair of exposures separated by at least 3 weeks, in a randomized, double-blind fashion. Nasal lavage (NL) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were performed immediately after one ozone exposure and 18 hours after the other, and either immediately or 18 hours after the air exposure. Indicators of airway effects in lavage fluid included changes in inflammatory cells, proinflammatory cytokines, protein markers of epithelial injury and repair, and generation of toxic oxygen species. In the classification exposure, fewer smokers than nonsmokers were responsive to ozone (11.8% vs. 28.6%, respectively); an insufficient number of smoker-responders were identified to study as a separate group. In the BAL study, all groups developed a similar degree of airway inflammation, consisting of increases in interleukins 6 and 8 (maximal immediately after exposure), and increases in polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), lymphocytes, and mast cells (maximal 18 hours after exposure). The increase in PMNs was inversely correlated with age (p = 0.013), but gender, nonspecific airway responsiveness, and allergy history were not predictive of inflammation. Alveolar macrophage production of toxic oxygen species decreased after ozone exposure in nonsmokers; however, not in smokers. Findings from nasal lavage did not mirror lower airway inflammatory responses in these studies. We conclude that, in response to ozone exposure, smokers experienced smaller decrements in lung function and fewer symptoms than nonsmokers; however, the intensity of the airway inflammatory response was independent of smoking status or airway responsiveness to ozone. Furthermore, the burden of toxic oxygen species following ozone exposure was greater for smokers than for nonsmokers. Subjects were young, healthy, and able to sustain exercise; the results may not be representative of nonsmokers or smokers in general. Nevertheless, the findings indicate that measuring symptoms and spirometric changes is not sufficient to assess the potential risks associated with ozone exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-72; discussion 81-7299
JournalResearch report (Health Effects Institute)
Issue number78
StatePublished - Jun 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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