Human isolated airway contraction: interaction between air pollutants and passive sensitization.
ABSTRACT Although there is epidemiological evidence that an increase in allergic diseases such as asthma may be linked to air pollution, there is little experimental data to address this issue. The aim of this study was thus to investigate the interaction between passive sensitization and exposure to pollutants in human isolated airways. We have examined (1) the effect of a preexposure to pollutants on the contraction of sensitized bronchi to a specific antigen, and (2) the effect of passive sensitization on the contraction to nonspecific agonists in bronchi preexposed to pollutants. In tissues sensitized by incubation in sera from asthmatic patients, preexposure to 0.3 microM acrolein (an aldehyde) for 10 min or 20 min significantly increased the maximal contractile response to the antigen Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (D. pter.) by 20.5 +/- 6.5 and 34.9 +/- 7.4%, respectively. Similarly, preexposure to ozone (1 ppm for 20 min) increased the response to D. pter. by 25.3 +/- 11.3%. On the other hand, passive sensitization increased the contractile response to carbachol or histamine of bronchial rings preexposed to 0.3 microM acrolein for 10 min by 33.5 +/- 6.2% and 32.5 +/- 5.1%, respectively. This study provides a proof of principle in vitro for a combined effect of immunological sensitization and exposure to pollutants, i.e., passive sensitization and exposure to pollutants act in a synergistic manner on human bronchial smooth muscle reactivity in response to both specific antigen and nonspecific agonists.