Background: More than two-fifths of the world's population uses solid fuels, mostly biomass, for cooking. The resulting biomass smoke exposure is a major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among women in developing countries.
Objective: To assess whether lower woodsmoke exposure from use of a stove with a chimney, compared to open fires, is associated with lower markers of airway inflammation in young women.
Design: We carried out a cross-sectional analysis on a sub-cohort of participants enrolled in a randomized controlled trial in rural Guatemala, RESPIRE.
Participants: We recruited 45 indigenous women at the end of the 18-month trial; 19 women who had been using the chimney stove for 18-24 months and 26 women still using open fires.
Measurements: We obtained spirometry and induced sputum for cell counts, gene expression of IL-8, TNF-α, MMP-9 and 12, and protein concentrations of IL-8, myeloperoxidase and fibronectin. Exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) and 48-hr personal CO tubes were measured to assess smoke exposure.
Results: MMP-9 gene expression was significantly lower in women using chimney stoves. Higher exhaled CO concentrations were significantly associated with higher gene expression of IL-8, TNF-α, and MMP-9. Higher 48-hr personal CO concentrations were associated with higher gene expression of IL-8, TNF- α, MMP-9 and MMP-12; reaching statistical significance for MMP-9 and MMP-12.
Conclusions: Compared to using an open wood fire for cooking, use of a chimney stove was associated with lower gene expression of MMP-9, a potential mediator of airway remodeling. Among all participants, indoor biomass smoke exposure was associated with higher gene expression of multiple mediators of airway inflammation and remodeling; these mechanisms may explain some of the observed association between prolonged biomass smoke exposure and COPD.