Lung function of primary cooks using LPG or biomass and the effect of particulate matter on airway epithelial barrier integrity

Article: Lung function of primary cooks using LPG or biomass and the effect of particulate matter on airway epithelial barrier integrity

Authors: Emma M Stapleton, Abhilash Kizhakke Puliyakote, Nervana Metwali, Matthew Jeronimo, Ian M Thornell Robert B Manges, Monalisa Bilas, Mohamed Ali Kamal Batcha, Mangaleswari Seeniappan Kumaravel, Kumar Durairaj, Kesavan Karuppusamy, Geetha Kathiresan, Sirajunnisa Abdul Rahim, Kumaran Shanmugam, Peter S Thorne, Thomas M Peters, Eric A Hoffman, Alejandro P Comellas

Journal: Environ Res. 2020 Oct;189:109888

Background: Cooks exposed to biomass fuel experience increased risk of respiratory disease and mortality. We sought to characterize lung function and environmental exposures of primary cooking women using two fuel-types in southeastern India, as well as to investigate the effect of particulate matter (PM) from kitchens on human airway epithelial (HAE) cells in vitro.

Methods: We assessed pre- and post-bronchodilator lung function on 25 primary female cooks using wood biomass or liquified petroleum gas (LPG), and quantified exposures from 34 kitchens (PM2.5, PM < 40 μm, black carbon, endotoxin, and PM metal and bacterial content). We then challenged HAE cells with PM, assessing its cytotoxicity to small-airway cells (A549) and its effect on: transepithelial conductance and macromolecule permeability (NuLi cells), and antimicrobial activity (using airway surface liquid, ASL, from primary HAE cells).

Results: Lung function was impaired in cooks using both fuel-types. 60% of participants in both fuel-types had respiratory restriction (post bronchodilator FEV1/FVC>90). The remaining 40% in the LPG group had normal spirometry (post FEV1/FVC = 80-90), while only 10% of participants in the biomass group had normal spirometry, and the remaining biomass cooks (30%) had respiratory obstruction (post FEV1/FVC<80). Significant differences were found in environmental parameters, with biomass kitchens containing greater PM2.5, black carbon, zirconium, arsenic, iron, vanadium, and endotoxin concentrations. LPG kitchens tended to have more bacteria (p = 0.14), and LPG kitchen PM had greater sulphur concentrations (p = 0.02). In vitro, PM induced cytotoxicity in HAE A549 cells in a dose-dependent manner, however the effect was minimal and there were no differences between fuel-types. PM from homes of participants with a restrictive physiology increased electrical conductance of NuLi HAE cells (p = 0.06) and decreased macromolar permeability (p ≤ 0.05), while PM from homes of those with respiratory obstruction tended to increase electrical conductance (p = 0.20) and permeability (p = 0.07). PM from homes of participants with normal spirometry did not affect conductance or permeability. PM from all homes tended to inhibit antimicrobial activity of primary HAE cell airway surface liquid (p = 0.06).

Conclusions: Biomass cooks had airway obstruction, and significantly greater concentrations of kitchen environmental contaminants than LPG kitchens. PM from homes of participants with respiratory restriction and obstruction altered airway cell barrier function, elucidating mechanisms potentially responsible for respiratory phenotypes observed in biomass cooks.

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