Dr. Christopher Carlsten

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 This week we profile a recent publication in the European Respiratory Journal from Dr. Christopher Carlsten (pictured above) at the University of British Columbia and Dr. Neeloffer Mookherjee (pictured below) at the University of Manitoba .

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

The Carlsten laboratory leverages the power of controlled human exposure methodology to focus on the respiratory and immunological health effects of inhaled environmental and occupational threats, using diesel exhaust, western red cedar, and phthalates as model inhalants.

Dr. Neeloffer Mookherjee

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Proteins are the primary functional molecules in our bodies. This is the first study to provide such a detailed examination of how exposure to diesel exhaust (as a model of traffic-related pollution) plus allergen, a common real-world combination, changes the proteins secreted in the human lung. We show that this combination uniquely enhances a subset of secreted proteins in BAL (a finding that would be missed in more simplified exposure studies). Importantly, amongst these altered proteins are some that normally protect us from infection, but are decreased by the pollution-allergen combination.

What are the next steps for this research?

We are investigating whether or not removing the particles from the air pollution mixture can prevent these (and other) potentially adverse effects we have observed, or whether instead it is the gases (which remain after removing particles) that are the primary driver of effect.

This research was funded by:

We are grateful for support from the BC Lung Association, MITACS, AllerGen NCE and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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