Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Found To Defend Against Environmental Pollutants And Pulmonary Emphysema

Date:
November 11, 2004
Source:
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Of Public Health
Summary:
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and other institutions have identified a “master gene” in mice that controls the action of 50 other genes whose products protect the lungs against environmental pollutants.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and other institutions have identified a “master gene” in mice that controls the action of 50 other genes whose products protect the lungs against environmental pollutants. The researchers believe their findings will provide a better understanding of the human body’s defense mechanisms and could lead to the identification of what factors make some people more susceptible to lung diseases. The article is published in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The so-called “master gene”—nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)—is activated in response to environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke, and then turns on numerous antioxidant and pollutant-detoxifying genes to protect the lungs from developing emphysema.

Shyam Biswal, PhD, senior author of the study and an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, said, “The important thing to remember is that the degree of lung damage depends on the ability to defend against environmental factors. We now know that Nrf2 is the key player in protection even in the case of chronic exposure to pollutants.”

In 2002, Dr. Biswal and colleagues were the first to show that activation of Nrf2 in response to an anticancer agent—Sulforaphane—can turn on antioxidant genes, but little was known about Nrf2-regulated genes and their role in lung inflammatory diseases caused by chronic exposure to environmental agents. By exposing mice to cigarette smoke, the researchers were able to learn which gene controlled this natural defense mechanism.

The researchers found that disruption of the Nrf2 gene caused earlier onset and more severe emphysema in a strain of mice that is resistant to cigarette smoke-related emphysema.

Through gene chip analysis, the researchers were able to identify 50 Nrf2-dependent antioxidant and cytoprotective pulmonary genes that work together to protect the lungs from cigarette-smoke-induced emphysema. A gene chip allows researchers to monitor the complex interactions of thousands of genes on a whole genome rather than one at time.

Pulmonary emphysema is a major manifestation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which affects more than 16 million Americans and is the fourth highest cause of death in United States. COPD, the only disease among the top 10 causes of death with a rising incidence rate in the United States, is predicted to reach worldwide epidemic proportions.

Tirumalai Rangasamy, PhD, first coauthor of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Biswal’s lab, explained that whereas cigarette smokers make up 85 percent of COPD patients, other environmental risk factors can include air pollution and chronic occupational exposure to various dusts.

Dr. Biswal said, “With this new gene and environmental interaction discovery, in the future we may be able to identify people who are genetically predisposed to developing lung diseases—not just COPD—that are caused by environmental factors. The responsiveness of the Nrf2 pathway may act as a major determinant of susceptibility to tobacco-smoke-induced emphysema by upregulating antioxidant defenses and decreasing lung inflammation.”

“Genetic ablation of Nrf2 enhances susceptibility to cigarette smoke-induced emphysema in mice” is published in the November 1, 2004, issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The study was supported by grants from the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund, the Young Scientist Clinical Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Science to the Johns Hopkins Center in Urban Environmental Health.

Along with Dr. Biswal and postdoctoral fellows from his lab, Dr. Rangasamy and Rajesh K. Thimmulappa, professor Thomas Kensler, with the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, coauthored the study. Additional co-authors include Sorachai S. Srisuma, Chung Y. Cho, Lijie Zhen, Masayuki Yamamoto, Irina Petrache and Rubin M. Tuder.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Of Public Health. "Gene Found To Defend Against Environmental Pollutants And Pulmonary Emphysema." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041104004109.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Of Public Health. (2004, November 11). Gene Found To Defend Against Environmental Pollutants And Pulmonary Emphysema. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041104004109.htm
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Of Public Health. "Gene Found To Defend Against Environmental Pollutants And Pulmonary Emphysema." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041104004109.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins