Understanding the Functional Impact of VOC–Ozone Mixtures on the Chemistry of RNA in Epithelial Lung Cells

Research Report 201 presents a study led by Lydia Contreras at the University of Texas, Austin. Dr. Contreras and colleagues evaluated how exposure of lung cells to volatile organic compounds plus ozone affects oxidation of ribonucleic acid, a key component of cells. The study aimed to improve understanding of the biological mechanisms by which air pollutants can cause effects in human health, thereby expanding our knowledge of potential causal links between exposure and health.

The investigators first created an aged VOC–ozone mixture by mixing acrolein, methacrolein, and ozone in an atmospheric chamber. This mixture was led into an air–liquid interface module containing human lung epithelial cells that were exposed for 90 minutes. Dr. Contreras identified specific RNA transcripts that were either up- or downregulated or oxidized by the exposures. She then performed analyses to identify the biological pathways inside the cells that were most associated with these changes in transcription. She also evaluated whether there were changes in levels of specific proteins or lipids in the cells, or in markers of cell injury and death.

Dr. Contreras was funded under HEI’s Walter A. Rosenblith New Investigator Award program.