METHODS: In this paper, we highlight a review of the studies that have used biomarkers to understand the association between air particles exposure and the development of respiratory problems resulting from the damage in the respiratory system. Data from previous epidemiological studies relevant to the application of biomarkers in respiratory system damage reported from exposure to air particles are also summarized.
RESULTS: Based on these analyses, the findings agree with the hypothesis that biomarkers are relevant in linking harmful air particles concentrations to increased respiratory health effects. Biomarkers are used in epidemiological studies to provide an understanding of the mechanisms that follow airborne particles exposure in the airway. However, application of biomarkers in epidemiological studies of health effects caused by air particles in both environmental and occupational health is inchoate.
CONCLUSION: Biomarkers unravel the complexity of the connection between exposure to air particles and respiratory health.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We profiled gene expression changes in the airway wall using a large animal model of physical injury comprising bronchial brush biopsy in anaesthetised sheep. The experimental design featured sequential studies in the same animals over the course of a week and yielded data relating to the response at 6 hours, and 1, 3 and 7 days after injury. Notable features of the transcriptional response included the early and sustained preponderance of down-regulated genes associated with angiogenesis and immune cell activation, selection and differentiation. Later features of the response included the up-regulation of cell cycle genes at d1 and d3, and the latter pronounced up-regulation of extracellular matrix-related genes at d3 and d7.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: It is possible to follow the airway wall response to physical injury in the same animal over the course of time. Transcriptional changes featured coordinate expression of functionally related genes in a reproducible manner both within and between animals. This characterisation will provide a foundation against which to assess the perturbations that accompany airway disease pathologies of comparative relevance.