Exposure to a firefighting overhaul environment without respiratory protection increases immune dysregulation and lung disease risk

Stephen J. Gainey, Gavin P. Horn, Albert E. Towers, Maci L. Oelschlager, Vincent L. Tir, Jenny Drnevich, Kenneth W. Fent, Stephen Kerber, Denise L. Smith, Gregory G. Freund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Firefighting activities appear to increase the risk of acute and chronic lung disease, including malignancy. While self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) mitigate exposures to inhalable asphyxiates and carcinogens, firefighters frequently remove SCBA during overhaul when the firegrounds appear clear of visible smoke. Using a mouse model of overhaul without airway protection, the impact of fireground environment exposure on lung gene expression was assessed to identify transcripts potentially critical to firefighter-related chronic pulmonary illnesses. Lung tissue was collected 2 hrs post-overhaul and evaluated via whole genome transcriptomics by RNA-seq. Although gas metering showed that the fireground overhaul levels of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen cyanine (HCN), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and oxygen (O2) were within NIOSH ceiling recommendations, 3852 lung genes were differentially expressed when mice exposed to overhaul were compared to mice on the fireground but outside the overhaul environment. Importantly, overhaul exposure was associated with an up/down-regulation of 86 genes with a fold change of 1.5 or greater (p<0.5) including the immunomodulatory-linked genes S100a8 and Tnfsf9 (downregulation) and the cancer-linked genes, Capn11 and Rorc (upregulation). Taken together these findings indicate that, without respiratory protection, exposure to the fireground overhaul environment is associated with transcriptional changes impacting proteins potentially related to inflammation-associated lung disease and cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0201830
JournalPloS one
Volume13
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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