Mitochondrial dysfunction was reported to be involved in the development of lung diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, molecular regulation underlying metabolic disorders in the airway epithelia exposed to air pollution remains unclear. In the present study, lung bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B and alveolar epithelial A549 cells were treated with diesel exhaust particles (DEPs), the primary representative of ambient particle matter. This treatment elicited cell death accompanied by induction of lipid reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and ferroptosis. Lipidomics analyses revealed that DEPs increased glycerophospholipid contents. Accordingly, DEPs upregulated expression of the electron transport chain (ETC) complex and induced mitochondrial ROS production. Mechanistically, DEP exposure downregulated the Hippo transducer transcriptional co-activator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ), which was further identified to be crucial for the ferroptosis-associated antioxidant system, including glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4), the glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunit (GCLC), and glutathione-disulfide reductase (GSR). Moreover, immunohistochemistry confirmed downregulation of GPX4 and upregulation of lipid peroxidation in the bronchial epithelium of COPD patients and Sprague-Dawley rats exposed to air pollution. Finally, proteomics analyses confirmed alterations of ETC-related proteins in bronchoalveolar lavage from COPD patients compared to healthy subjects. Together, our study discovered that involvement of mitochondrial redox dysregulation plays a vital role in pulmonary epithelial cell destruction after exposure to air pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115555
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2023


  • COPD
  • Ferroptosis
  • Hippo
  • Mitochondrial redox
  • Particular matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Downregulation of TAZ elicits a mitochondrial redox imbalance and ferroptosis in lung epithelial cells exposed to diesel exhaust particles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this