Indoor air pollution from biomass burning activates Akt in airway cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes: a study among premenopausal women in rural India

Toxicol Pathol. 2010 Dec;38(7):1085-98. doi: 10.1177/0192623310385139. Epub 2010 Oct 5.


Biomass burning is a major source of indoor air pollution in rural India. The authors investigated in this study whether cumulative exposures to biomass smoke cause activation of the serine/threonine kinase Akt in airway cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). For this, the authors enrolled 87 premenopausal (median age 34 years), nonsmoking women who used to cook with biomass (wood, dung, crop wastes) and 85 age-matched control women who cooked with cleaner fuel liquefied petroleum gas. Immunocytochemical and immunoblotting assays revealed significantly higher levels of phosphorylated forms of Akt protein (p-Akt(ser473) and p-Akt(thr308)) in PBL, airway epithelial cells, alveolar macrophages, and neutrophils in sputum of biomass-using women than control. Akt activation in biomass users was associated with marked rise in generation of reactive oxygen species and concomitant depletion of superoxide dismutase. Measurement of particulate matter having a diameter of less than 10 and 2.5 µm in indoor air by real-time aerosol monitor showed 2 to 4 times more particulate pollution in biomass-using households, and Akt activation was positively associated with particulate pollution after controlling potential confounders. The findings suggest that chronic exposure to biomass smoke activates Akt, possibly via generation of oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Biomass
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / drug effects*
  • Bronchi / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cooking / methods
  • Cytoplasm / drug effects
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / cytology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Premenopause
  • Rural Health
  • Smoke / adverse effects*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Smoke
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt