Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2010 Nov 20;299(5):L664-71. Epub 2010 Aug 20.
Department of Pediatrics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.
Accumulating evidence suggests that gender can have a profound effect on incidence and severity of a variety of pulmonary diseases. To address the influence of gender on the development of silica-induced pulmonary fibrosis, we instilled 0.2 g/kg silica into male and female C57BL/6 mice and examined the fibrotic and inflammatory response at 14 days postexposure. Both silica-exposed male and female mice had significant increases in total lung hydroxyproline compared with saline controls. However, silica-exposed female mice had significantly less total lung hydroxyproline than silica-exposed male mice. This observation was confirmed by color thresholding image analysis. Interestingly, silica-exposed female mice had significantly more inflammatory cells, the majority of which were macrophages, as well as higher levels of the macrophage-specific chemokines MCP-1 and CCL9 in whole lung lavage compared with silica-exposed male mice. We also show that at baseline, estrogen receptor α (ERα) mRNA expression is lower in female mice than in males and that ERα mRNA expression is decreased by silica exposure. Finally, we show that the response of ovariectomized female mice to silica instillation is similar to that of male mice. These observations together show that gender influences the lung response to silica.