A rat model of smoke inhalation injury: Influence of combustion smoke on gene expression in the brain

Heung M. Lee, George H. Greeley, David N. Herndon, Mala Sinha, Bruce A. Luxon, Ella W. Englander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Acute smoke inhalation causes death and injury in victims of home and industrial fires as well as victims of combat situations. The lethal factors in combustion smoke inhalation are toxic gases and oxygen deficiency, with carbon monoxide (CO) as a primary cause of death. In survivors, inhalation of smoke can result in severe immediate and delayed neuropathologies. To gain insight into the progression of molecular events contributing to smoke inhalation sequelae in the brain, we developed a smoke inhalation rat model and conducted a genome-wide analysis of gene expression. Microarray analysis revealed a modified brain transcriptome with changes peaking at 24 h and subsiding within 7 days post-smoke. Overall, smoke inhalation downregulated genes associated with synaptic function, neurotransmission, and neurotrophic support, and upregulated genes associated with stress responses, including nitric oxide synthesis, antioxidant defenses, proteolysis, inflammatory response, and glial activation. Notably, among the affected genes, many have been previously implicated in other types of brain injury, demonstrating the usefulness of microarrays for analysis of changes in gene expression in complex insults. In accord with previously described modulations of nitric oxide homeostasis in CO poisoning, microarray analysis revealed increased brain expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and NOS ligand after inhalation of smoke. Furthermore, immunostaining showed significant elevations in perivascular NOS and in protein nitration, corroborating the involvement of nitric oxide perturbations in post-smoke sequelae in the brain. Thus, the new rat model, in combination with microarray analyses, affords insight into the complex molecular pathophysiology of smoke inhalation in the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-265
Number of pages11
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005


  • Carbon monoxide
  • Carboxyhemoglobin
  • DNA microarray
  • Nitric oxide
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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