The objective of this study was to assess tracheobronchial protease inhibitor concentrations longitudinally and determine whether initial concentrations predict subsequent lung injury and mortality in intubated burn victims. Tracheobronchial suction fluid was collected every 2 hours for 36 hours. Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT), secretory leukocyte peptidase inhibitor (SLPI), alpha-2-macroglobulin (A2M), and cell and differential counts were assayed. Partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood/fraction of inspired oxygen (PaO2/FIO2) and peak airway pressure (PAP) were recorded for 72 hours. Standard statistics were used to evaluate cross-sectional relationships; random coefficient (mixed) models were used to evaluate temporal trends in marker concentrations and relation to clinical outcomes. Among 29 patients, 24 (83%) developed hypoxemia (PaO2/FIO2 35% TBSA burn (P = .010 and .033, respectively), when compared with patients with less severe burns. However, patients with increased A2M in combination with >35% TBSA burn had a 6-fold (95% CI: 1.8-20) increased relative risk of death. Tracheobronchial AAT and A2M levels were significantly lower in patients with more severe burns and increased over time. Initial SLPI levels predicted subsequent PAP. Increased early A2M in combination with extensive burn predicted early mortality.
As part of the innate immune defense, the polarized conducting lung epithelium acts as a barrier to keep particulates carried in respiration from underlying tissue. Arsenic is a metalloid toxicant that can affect the lung via inhalation or ingestion. We have recently shown that chronic exposure of mice or humans to arsenic (10-50 ppb) in drinking water alters bronchiolar lavage or sputum proteins consistent with reduced epithelial cell migration and wound repair in the airway. In this report, we used an in vitro model to examine effects of acute exposure of arsenic (15-290 ppb) on conducting airway lung epithelium. We found that arsenic at concentrations as low as 30 ppb inhibits reformation of the epithelial monolayer following scrape wounds of monolayer cultures. In an effort to understand functional contributions to epithelial wound repair altered by arsenic, we showed that acute arsenic exposure increases activity and expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, an important protease in lung function. Furthermore, inhibition of MMP-9 in arsenic-treated cells improved wound repair. We propose that arsenic in the airway can alter the airway epithelial barrier by restricting proper wound repair in part through the upregulation of MMP-9 by lung epithelial cells.
The potential for adverse respiratory effects following exposure to electronic (e-) cigarette liquid (e-liquid) flavorings remains largely unexplored. Given the multitude of flavor permutations on the market, identification of those flavor constituents that negatively impact the respiratory tract is a daunting task. In this study we examined the impact of common e-liquid flavoring chemicals on the airway epithelium, the cellular monolayer that provides the first line of defense against inhaled particulates, pathogens, and toxicants.
The mammalian alveolar epithelium is composed of alveolar type I (AT1) and alveolar type II (AT2) cells that together coordinate tissue function. We used a heterocellular culture model of AT1 and AT2 cells to determine pathways for intercellular signaling between these two phenotypes. Gap junction protein (connexin) profiles of AT1 and AT2 cells in heterocellular cultures were similar to those seen in rat lung alveolar sections. Dye coupling studies revealed functional gap junctions between and among each cell phenotype. Localized mechanical stimulation resulted in propagated changes of intracellular Ca2+ to AT1 or AT2 cells independent of the stimulated cell phenotype. Ca2+ communication that originated after AT1 cell stimulation was inhibited by gap junction blockers, but not by an inhibitor of extracellular nucleotide signaling (apyrase). Conversely, Ca2+ communication after stimulation of AT2 cells was not significantly reduced by gap junction inhibitors. However, apyrase significantly reduced Ca2+ communication from AT2 to AT1 cells, but not from AT2 to AT2 cells. In conclusion, AT1 and AT2 cells have unique connexin profiles that allow for functional coupling and distinct intercellular pathways for coordination of Ca2+ signaling.
Paracrine ATP signaling in the lung epithelium participates in a variety of innate immune functions, including mucociliary clearance, bactericide production, and as an initiating signal in wound repair. We evaluated the effects of chronic low-dose arsenic relevant to U.S. drinking water standards (i.e., 10 ppb [130nM]) on airway epithelial cells. Immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells (16HBE14o-) were exposed to 0, 130, or 330nM arsenic (as Na-arsenite) for 4-5 weeks and examined for wound repair efficiency and ATP-mediated Ca(2+) signaling. We found that chronic arsenic exposure at these low doses slows wound repair and reduces ATP-mediated Ca(2+) signaling. We further show that arsenic compromises ATP-mediated Ca(2+) signaling by altering both Ca(2+) release from intracellular stores (via metabotropic P2Y receptors) and Ca(2+) influx mechanisms (via ionotropic P2X receptors). To better model the effects of arsenic on ATP-mediated Ca(2+) signaling under conditions of natural exposure, we cultured tracheal epithelial cells obtained from mice exposed to control or 50 ppb Na-arsenite supplemented drinking water for 4 weeks. Tracheal epithelial cells from arsenic-exposed mice displayed reduced ATP-mediated Ca(2+) signaling dynamics similar to our in vitro chronic exposure. Our findings demonstrate that chronic arsenic exposure at levels that are commonly found in drinking water (i.e., 10-50 ppb) alters cellular mechanisms critical to airway innate immunity.