Oxidized phospholipids derived from ozone-treated lung surfactant extract reduce macrophage and epithelial cell viability

Academic Article


  • Ozone is known to be a highly toxic gas present in the urban air which exerts its effect on pulmonary tissue through its facile chemical reactions with target molecules in the airway. One of the first barriers encountered by ozone is epithelial lining fluid which contains pulmonary surfactant rich in glycerophosphocholine lipids. The reaction of ozone with calf lung surfactant extract was found to result in the production of 1-palmitoyl-2-(9′-oxo-nonanoyl)-glycerophosphocholine (16:0a/9-al-GPCho) as an expected product of the ozonolysis of abundant unsaturated phospholipids containing unsaturated fatty acyl groups with a double bond at carbon-9. This oxidized phospholipid was identified as a biologically active product in that it reduced elicited macrophage viability by necrosis with an ED50 of 6 μM. Further studies of the biological activity of 16:0a/9-al-GPCho revealed that concentrations from 100 to 200 nM initiated apoptosis in pulmonary epithelial-like A549 cells as assessed by TUNEL staining, nuclear size, and caspase-3 activation with loss of viability indicated by reduction of mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity. The release of IL-8, a neutrophil chemokine, from A549 cells was also stimulated by 50-100 nM 16:0a/9-al-GPCho. Exposure of calf lung surfactant to low levels of ozone (62.5, 125, and 250 ppb) for various time periods from 2 to 48 h in a feedback-regulated ozone exposure chamber resulted in a dose- and time-dependent increase in the formation of 16:0a/9-al-GPCho as measured by a specific and sensitive LC/MS/MS assay. The quantity of this biologically active chain-shortened glycerophosphocholine lipid generated even at 125 ppb ozone for 2-4 h (50-100 nM) was consistent with this product mediating the toxic effects of ozone on cells in contact with surfactant.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Uhlson C; Harrison K; Allen CB; Ahmad S; White CW; Murphy RC
  • Start Page

  • 896
  • End Page

  • 906
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 7