Exposure to ambient ozone (O3) increases the susceptivity to allergens and triggers exacerbations in patients with asthma. However, the detailed mechanisms of action for O3 to trigger asthma exacerbations are still unclear.
An ovalbumin (OVA)-established asthmatic mouse model was selected to expose to filtered air (OVA-model) or 1.0 ppm O3(OVA-O3 model) during the process of OVA challenge. Next, the possible involvements of p38 MAPK and oxidative stress in the ozone actions on the asthma exacerbations were investigated on the mice of OVA-O3 model by treating them with SB239063 (a p38 MAPK inhibitor), and/or the α-tocopherol (antioxidant). Biological measurements were conducted including airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), airway resistance (Raw), lung compliance (CL), inflammation in the airway lumen and lung parenchyma, the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and heat shock protein (HSP) 27 in the tracheal tissues, and the malondialdehyde (MDA) content and the glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity in lung tissues.
In OVA-allergic mice, O3 exposure deteriorated airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), airway resistance (Raw), lung compliance (CL) and pulmonary inflammation, accompanied by the increased oxidative stress in lung tissues and promoted p38 MAPK and HSP27 phosphorylation in tracheal tissues. Administration of SB239063 (a p38 MAPK inhibitor) on OVA-O3 model exclusively mitigated the Raw, the CL, and the BAL IL-13 content, while α-tocopherol (antioxidant) differentially reduced the BAL number of eosinophils and macrophages, the content of BAL hyaluronan, the peribronchial inflammation, as well as the mRNA expression of TNF-α and IL-5 in the lung tissues of OVA-O3 model. Administration of these two chemical inhibitors similarly inhibited the AHR, the BAL IFN-γ and IL-6 production, the perivascular lung inflammation and the lung IL-17 mRNA expression of OVA-O3 model. Interestingly, the combined treatment of both compounds together synergistically inhibited neutrophil counts in the BALF and CXCL-1 gene expression in the lung.
O3 exposure during the OVA challenge process promoted exacerbation in asthma. Both p38 MAPK and oxidative stress were found to play a critical role in this process and simultaneous inhibition of these two pathways significantly reduced the O3-elicited detrimental effects on the asthma exacerbation.