Gene expression analysis in induced sputum from welders with and without airway-related symptoms

Original Article



To identify changes in gene expression in the airways among welders, with and without lower airway symptoms, working in black steel.


Included were 25 male, non-smoking welders. Each welder was sampled twice; before exposure (after vacation), and after 1 month of exposure. From the welders (14 symptomatic, of whom 7 had asthma-like symptoms), RNA from induced sputum was obtained for gene expression analysis. Messenger RNA from a subset of the samples (n = 7) was analysed with microarray technology to identify genes of interest. These genes were further analysed using quantitative PCR (qPCR; n = 22).


By comparing samples before and after exposure, the microarray analysis resulted in several functional annotation clusters: the one with the highest enrichment score contained “response to wounding”, “inflammatory response” and “defence response”. Seven genes were analysed by qPCR: granulocyte colony-stimulating factor 3 receptor (CSF3R), superoxide dismutase 2, interleukin 8, glutathione S-transferase pi 1, tumour necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 6 (TNFAIP6), interleukin 1 receptor type II and matrix metallopeptidase 25 (MMP25). Increased levels of CSF3R, TNFAIP6 and MMP25 were indicated among asthmatic subjects compared to non-symptomatic subjects, although the differences did not reach significance.


Workers’ exposure to welding fumes changed gene expression in the lower airways in genes involved in inflammatory and defence response. Thus, microarray and qPCR technique can demonstrate markers of exposure to welding fumes and possible disease-related markers. However, further studies are needed to verify genes involved and to further characterise the mechanism for welding fumes-associated lower airway symptoms.


Black steel Inflammation Microarray Oxidative stress Quantitative polymerase chain reaction 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lena S. Jönsson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jørn Nielsen
    • 1
  • Karin Broberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Laboratory MedicineLund University HospitalLundSweden
  2. 2.Center for Primary Health Care Research, Department of Clinical SciencesSkåne University HospitalMalmöSweden

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