Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Medicine



Committee Chair

Richard D. Dey.


Ozone, one of the major air pollutants in urban areas, produces epithelial cell injury and inflammation in the airways upon exposure. Previous studies have shown that ozone exposure leads to increased substance P (SP) expression in nerves innervating the smooth muscle in the extrapulmonary airway. Nerve growth factor (NGF), a neurotrophin, is known to increase SP expression. To determine the effect of ozone exposure on the release of NGF, a cell culture technique was developed for studying a homogenous rat tracheal epithelial cell population for analysis of NGF mRNA and protein expression. Furthermore, to determine if this effect is age-dependent, a critical period exposure paradigm was used. Rat pups exposed to ozone at postnatal day (PD) 6 showed an increase in the level of NGF mRNA while pups exposed after PD 6 showed no change in NGF expression. When rat pups exposed to ozone on PD 6 were reexposed at a later date, an increase in NGF mRNA was observed. These data suggest that exposure to ozone has an effect on NGF expression in early postnatal life and that this exposure might play a role in ozone sensitivity later in life.