Axis 1 | Environmental contaminants and chronic inflammatory pulmonary pathologies

This research programme, undertaken by the "Environmental contaminants and pulmonary barriers" team aims to understand the role of environmental contaminants in the development of chronic inflammatory pathologies of the lung.

  1. Objective
  2. In vitro toxicological approaches
  3. Clinical-biological approaches


Axis 1 - Objectives


Human beings are exposed to a great many chemical and biological agents inhaled in both domestic and professional everyday environments. Our projects aim to understand the role of these environmental contaminants on the development of chronic inflammatory pulmonary pathologies such as asthma, chronic obstructive bronchopneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis. Our translational research encompasses in vitro immuno-toxicological approaches on human cells and clinical-biological approaches on groups of patients followed by the Rennes Teaching Hospital (CHU).

In vitro toxicological approaches

The main purpose of this research is to characterise the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which chemical agents (diesel particulates, silica) or biological agents (particulates generated by indoor farming activities) enhance the emergence or the development of lower respiratory tract pathologies in humans. We are therefore studying the effects of such contaminants on the phenotype and activity of the bronchial and epithelial cells, and pulmonary macrophages and fibroblasts that play a major part in the physio-pathology of asthma, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis. We are focusing in particular on the inflammatory processes, namely those that can activate and differentiate pulmonary fibroblasts. The Irset team working on this research program has established various models for primary human cell cultures (macrophages, pulmonary fibroblasts) thanks to their close cooperation with different clinical wards of the Rennes Teaching Hospital (CHU).

In vitro Toxicological approaches - We used various cell models: primary human macrophages, primary human lung fibroblats, cell lines...

Clinical-biological approaches

The purpose of these studies is to characterize the chronic inflammatory pulmonary pathologies developed by two groups of patients being followed by the Rennes Teaching Hospital, i.e. Breton dairy farmers and patients being treated for systemic sclerosis.
On the one hand, we seek to identify the different types and nature of the potential exposure to chemical and/or biological agents in these patients, via their pulmonary tract. We analyse and model the different types of exposure of dairy farmers to the biological dust generated by their daily work on the farm and we characterize the nature of the microbial agents (bacteria, molds) that they regularly inhale. We also seek to determine the domestic and professional exposure to silica, a powerful fibrosis-provoking agent, among patient suffering from limited and diffuse forms of systemic sclerosis.
On the other hand, through the regular clinical and biological monitoring of these same patients, and also of other patients suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, we study the role of the circulating monocytes/macrophages in the development of their respiratory pathologies and seek to identify new prognostic biomarkers.

Clinical-biological approaches - Characterization of respiratory pathologies related to professional activities.