In utero exposure to second-hand smoke aggravates adult responses to irritants: adult second-hand smoke

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In utero exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) is associated with exacerbated asthmatic responses in children. We tested the hypothesis that in utero SHS will aggravate the lung responses of young adult mice re-exposed to SHS. We exposed Balb/c mice in utero to SHS (S) or filtered air (AIR; A), and re-exposed the male offspring daily from 11-15 weeks of age to either SHS (AS and SS) or AIR (AA and SA). After the adult exposures, we analyzed samples of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), examined the results of histopathology, and assessed pulmonary function and gene expression changes in lung samples. In SS mice, compared with the other three groups (AA, AS, and SA), we found decreases in breathing frequency and increases in airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), as well as low but significantly elevated concentrations of BALF proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1b, IL-6, and keratinocyte-derived chemokine). Lung morphometric analyses revealed enlarged airspaces and arteries in SA and SS mice compared with their in utero AIR counterparts, as well as increased collagen deposition in AS and SS mice. Unique gene expression profiles were found for in utero, adult, and combined exposures, as well as for mice with elevated AHR responses. The profibrotic metalloprotease genes, Adamts9 and Mmp3, were up-regulated in the SS and AHR groups, suggesting a role for in utero SHS exposure on the adult development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Our results indicate that in utero exposures to environmentally relevant concentrations of SHS alter lung structure more severely than do adult SHS exposures of longer duration. These in utero exposures also aggravate AHR and promote a profibrotic milieu in adult lungs.

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American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology

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