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Biomarkers for the non invasive assessment of acute and chronic effects of air pollutants of the respiratory epithelium. development and application to adults and children along a north-south gradient.


1. To evaluate the acute and chronic effects of ambient air pollution, especially of ozone, on the respiratory tract of children and adults along a North-South gradient.
2. To compare the acute lung epithelial toxicity of ambient ozone between adults and children.
3. To evaluate the acute lung epithelial toxicity of ambient ozone compared to that of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides and to determine whether the pulmonary response is influenced by nutritional factors and genetic traits.
4. To test mechanistic hypotesis accounting for the association between air pollution and premature cardiovascular mortality and the rising incidence of asthma.
5. To extend the battery of peripheral lung markers and to characterize new protein recently discovered, such as a new polymorphic anti-oxidant protein.

Scientific approach

To improve the assessment of the short and long term health risk of air pollutants on the respiratory tract, the HELIOS project will use and further develop a new
non-invasive approach for detecting lung epithelial damage based on the determination in serum of lung-specific secretory proteins. This approach will be applied to both adults and children acutely or chronically exposed to air pollutants along a North-South European gradient characterised by a very wide range of ozone pollution extending from the North of Sweden to the North of Italy. It will also be used in combination with exposure and susceptibility biomarkers to identify the most vulnerable subjects to the acute effects of ozone.

Studies will also be conducted on smokers and foundry workers to compare the acute lung epithelial toxicity of ambient ozone to that of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, alone or in association. Since the disruption of the lung epithelial barrier by ambient ozone might be implicated in the rising incidence of asthma and premature cardiovascular mortality, the project will investigate in all above studies markers of hypercoagulability, inflammation and allergy. Proteome analysis of human bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, followed by a characterisation of candidate biomarkers with molecular biology, biochemical and immuohistochemical techniques, will be adopted to extend the battery of peripheral lung biomarkers.

New proteins recently discovered by HELIOS partners will be further characterised and evaluated as potential markers of susceptibility to or early effect of air pollutants. One of these proteins is a polymorphic anti-oxidant protein present in human lung lavage fluid where it appears to play an important protective role against oxidative stress.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Place De L'Universite 1

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Participants (4)