Messenger RNA levels of lung extracellular matrix proteins during ozone exposure
Continuous exposure of rats to ozone has been shown to result in lung epithelial damage, inflammation, and subsequent increases in collagen content. The main goal of this study was to identify the earliest time point of altered extracellular matrix protein gene expression by utilizing Northern blot analyses of rat lungs continuously exposed to 1.0 ppm ozone for 14 days. An early increase of steady-state fibronectin mRNA levels was observed at 2 days of exposure, prior to the time point of increased type I collagen mRNA, which was seen at 4 days. This increased level of type I collagen mRNA preceded measurable changes in total lung collagen content, observed at 7 days. In addition, peak levels of the growth-related proto-oncogene c-myc mRNA could be correlated with maximal increases of lung DNA content, although the initial increase in c-myc mRNA preceded measurable changes of total lung DNA. The use of specific cDNA probes for measuring altered gene expression can be useful for defining the early cellular and molecular events in ozone-induced lung injury.