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ARSENIC ALTERS KEY COMPONENTS OF INNATE IMMUNE DEFENSE IN AIRWAY EPITHELIAL CELLSChronic exposure to arsenic-contaminated drinking water is correlated with obstructive lung disease (i.e. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis), reduced lung function and other respiratory effects (e.g. chronic cough, chest sounds). Researchers have associated arsenic exposure with reduced airway immunity. The airway epithelial innate immune system protects underlying tissue from inhaled particulates and pathogens through a variety of mechanisms. Such defects in innate immunity are associated with chronic bacterial infections and development of obstructive airway diseases, including COPD and bronchiectasis. We hypothesize that arsenic exposure may lead to recurrent lung infection and eventual obstructive lung disease by compromising mechanisms essential in airway innate immunity. In the work presented herein we evaluated the effects of arsenic on airway epithelial barrier properties, wound repair capacity, and signaling pathways essential in innate immunity. We previously published that acute (24 hr) arsenic (0.4-3.9 μM as Naarsenite) slowed wound repair in a human bronchial epithelial cell line (16HBE14o-). In the first study we hypothesized arsenic may be affecting wound repair by altering Ca²⁺ signaling that is important in multiple aspects of wound repair, including cell migration. We found wound-induced Ca²⁺ signaling was largely mediated by paracrine ATP in 16HBE14o- cells, and acute (24 hr) arsenic (0.8, 3.9 μM) exposure reduced ATPmediated Ca²⁺ signaling. We identified functional reductions in the ATP receptors P2Y₂ and P2X₄ following arsenic exposure. Both of these receptors are essential in airway innate immunity (e.g. mucociliary clearance). In the second study we found similar reductions in wound repair capacity and ATP-mediated Ca²⁺ signaling in 16HBE14o cells using a chronic (4-5 week) low-dose (0.13, 0.33 μM) arsenic exposure representative of U.S. drinking water standards. Further, wound-induced Ca²⁺ signaling was reduced in primary cultured tracheal cells derived from mice fed arsenic-free or arsenic-supplemented (50 ppb; 1μM=75 ppb) water for four weeks prior to experimentation. In the last study we demonstrated that the structure and function of the airway epithelial barrier was altered by a five-day exposure of arsenic (0.8, 3.9 μM). We conclude that arsenic at environmentally relevant levels compromises key functions in airway epithelial innate immunity that may underlie development of lung disease.