By: Ananya Jain - Millburn High School
For the past two summers I have worked at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy through the Liberty Science Center’s Partners in Science program.
Both summers, I focused on how ozone can injure the lungs of organisms. Ozone, when found higher up in the stratosphere, protects us from harmful UV-rays. However, when found in the troposphere in cities such as LA and NYC, ozone causes toxicity in human lungs.
My main goal was to see how ozone affects the lung. To assess this, I focused on cells called macrophages. Macrophages are the body’s first-responders to foreign invaders; for example, when bacteria invade the body through a cut, macrophages will be the first to get there and engulf the pathogens, therefore preventing you from getting sick.
Because macrophages respond to injury, I studied the lungs of mice treated with air (control group) and ozone (injury group) under a microscope. More macrophages means more injury. I consistently found more macrophages in the lungs of mice exposed to ozone than in the lungs of mice exposed to air. Longer exposure to ozone (ex. 72 hours instead of 24 hours) also resulted in more macrophages in the lung.
There are two types of macrophages: pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory. They must be kept in a delicate balance. I found that if this balance is disrupted, ozone-induced injury is much worse. If there is an absence of anti-inflammatory macrophages, the ozone-induced injury is much worse.
This research was funded by the Department of Defense. I hope to use my knowledge to develop therapeutics against chemical warfare agents in the future.
This research was conducted as a part of the Partners in Science Research Program. To read more, click here for a full pdf of Ananya's formal research paper about her project!