Diesel exhaust enhanced susceptibility to influenza infection is associated with decreased surfactant protein expression

Inhal Toxicol. 2007 Nov;19(14):1121-33. doi: 10.1080/08958370701665426.


We have previously shown that exposure of respiratory epithelial cells to diesel exhaust (DE) enhances susceptibility to influenza infection and increases the production of interleukin (IL)-6 and interferon (IFN)-beta. The purpose of this study was to confirm and expand upon these in vitro results by assessing the effects of DE exposure on the progression of influenza infection and on development of associated pulmonary immune and inflammatory responses in vivo. BALB/c mice were exposed to air or to DE containing particulate matter at concentrations of 0.5 or 2 mg/m(3) for 4 h/day for 5 days and subsequently instilled with influenza A/Bangkok/1/79 virus. Exposure to 0.5 mg/m(3) (but not the higher 2-mg/m(3) dose) of DE increased susceptibility to influenza infection as demonstrated by a significant increase in hemagglutinin (HA) mRNA levels, a marker of influenza copies, and greater immunohistochemical staining for influenza virus protein in the lung. The enhanced susceptibility to infection observed in mice exposed to 0.5 mg/m(3) of DE was associated with a significant increase in the expression of IL-6, while antiviral lung IFN levels were unaffected. Analysis of the expression and production of surfactant proteins A and D, which are components of the interferon-independent antiviral defenses, showed that these factors were decreased following exposure to 0.5 mg/m(3) of DE but not to the higher 2-mg/m(3) concentration. Taken together, the results demonstrate that exposure to DE enhances the susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by reducing the expression and production of antimicrobial surfactant proteins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / etiology
  • Influenza, Human / genetics
  • Influenza, Human / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Proteins / physiology
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / metabolism
  • Vehicle Emissions* / toxicity


  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Proteins
  • Pulmonary Surfactants
  • Vehicle Emissions