A mouse model of wildfire smoke-induced health effects: sex differences in acute and sustained effects of inhalation exposures

Mary Buford, Sarah Lacher, Matthew Slattery, Daniel C. Levings, Britten Postma, Andrij Holian, Chris Migliaccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to climate change, wildfires have increased in intensity and duration. While wildfires threaten lives directly, the smoke has more far-reaching adverse health impacts. During an extreme 2017 wildfire event, residents of Seeley Lake, Montana were exposed to unusually high levels of wood smoke (WS) causing sustained effects on lung function (decreased FEV1/FVC). Objective: The present study utilized an animal model of WS exposure to research cellular and molecular mechanisms of the resulting health effects. Methods: Mice were exposed to inhaled WS utilizing locally harvested wood to recapitulate community exposures. WS was generated at a rate resulting in a 5 mg/m3 PM2.5 exposure for five days. Results: This exposure resulted in a similar 0.28 mg/m2 particle deposition (lung surface area) in mice that was calculated for human exposure. As with the community observations, there was a significant effect on lung function, increased resistance, and decreased compliance, that was more pronounced in males at an extended (2 months) timepoint and males were more affected than females: ex vivo assays illustrated changes to alveolar macrophage functions (increased TNFα secretion and decreased efferocytosis). Female mice had significantly elevated IL-33 levels in lungs, however, pretreatment of male mice with IL-33 resulted in an abrogation of the observed WS effects, suggesting a dose-dependent role of IL-33. Additionally, there were greater immunotoxic effects in male mice. Discussion: These findings replicated the outcomes in humans and suggest that IL-33 is involved in a mechanism of the adverse effects of WS exposures that inform on potential sex differences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInhalation Toxicology
StatePublished - May 20 2024


  • acute
  • cytokines
  • extended effects
  • inflammation
  • macrophage
  • mouse
  • particles
  • sex differences
  • Wood smoke


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