Air pollutants have been associated with increased diabetes in humans. We hypothesized that ozone would impair glucose homeostasis by altering insulin signaling and/or endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress in young and aged rats. One, 4, 12, and 24 month old Brown Norway (BN) rats were exposed to air or ozone, 0.25 or 1.0 ppm, 6 h/day for 2 days (acute) or 2 d/week for 13 weeks (subchronic). Additionally, 4 month old rats were exposed to air or 1.0 ppm ozone, 6 h/day for 1 or 2 days (time-course). Glucose tolerance tests (GTT) were performed immediately after exposure. Serum and tissue biomarkers were analyzed 18 h after final ozone for acute and subchronic studies, and immediately after each day of exposure in the time-course study. Age-related glucose intolerance and increases in metabolic biomarkers were apparent at baseline. Acute ozone caused hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in rats of all ages. Ozone-induced glucose intolerance was reduced in rats exposed for 13 weeks. Acute, but not subchronic ozone increased α2-macroglobulin, adiponectin and osteopontin. Time-course analysis indicated glucose intolerance at days 1 and 2 (2>1), and a recovery 18 h post ozone. Leptin increased day 1 and epinephrine at all times after ozone. Ozone tended to decrease phosphorylated insulin receptor substrate-1 in liver and adipose tissues. ER stress appeared to be the consequence of ozone induced acute metabolic impairment since transcriptional markers of ER stress increased only after 2 days of ozone. In conclusion, acute ozone exposure induces marked systemic metabolic impairments in BN rats of all ages, likely through sympathetic stimulation.
Keywords: Aging; Air pollution; Epinephrine; Metabolic syndrome; Ozone; Serum biomarkers.