The National Environmental Respiratory Center (NERC) experiment in multi-pollutant air quality health research: II. Comparison of responses to diesel and gasoline engine exhausts, hardwood smoke and simulated downwind coal emissions.
Gasoline-powered vehicle emissions contribute significantly to ambient air pollution. We hypothesized that exposure to gasoline engine emissions (GEE) may exacerbate preexisting allergic airway responses. Male BALB/c mice were sensitized by injection with ovalbumin (OVA) and then received a 10-min aerosolized OVA challenge. Parallel groups were sham-sensitized with saline. Mice were exposed 6 h/day to air (control, C) or GEE containing particulate matter (PM) at low (L), medium (M), or high (H) concentrations, or to the H level with PM removed by filtration (high-filtered, HF). Immediately after GEE exposure mice received another 10-min aerosol OVA challenge (pre-OVA protocol). In a second (post-OVA) protocol, mice were similarly sensitized but only challenged to OVA before air or GEE exposure. Measurements of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and blood collection were performed approximately 24 h after the last exposure. In both protocols, M, H, and HF GEE exposure significantly decreased BAL neutrophils from nonsensitized mice but had no significant effect on BAL cells from OVA-sensitized mice. In the pre-OVA protocol, GEE exposure increased OVA-specific IgG(1) but had no effect on BAL interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-13, or interferon (IFN)-gamma in OVA-sensitized mice. Nonsensitized GEE-exposed mice had increased OVA-specific IgG(2a), IgE, and IL-2, but decreased total IgE. In the post-OVA protocol, GEE exposure reduced BAL IL-4, IL-5, and IFN-gamma in nonsensitized mice but had no effect on sensitized mice. These results suggest acute exposure to the gas-vapor phase of GEE suppressed inflammatory cells and cytokines from nonsensitized mice but did not substantially exacerbate allergic responses.