Ozone modifies the metabolic and endocrine response to glucose: Reproduction of effects with the stress hormone corticosterone Academic Article uri icon

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  • Air pollution is associated with increased incidence of metabolic disease (e.g. metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes); however, underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Air pollutants increase the release of stress hormones (human cortisol, rodent corticosterone), which could contribute to metabolic dysregulation. We assessed acute effects of ozone, and stress axis involvement, on glucose tolerance and on the metabolic (triglyceride), endocrine/energy regulation (insulin, glucagon, GLP-1, leptin, ghrelin, corticosterone), and inflammatory/endothelial (TNF, IL-6, VEGF, PAI-1) response to exogenous glucose. Male Fischer-344 rats were exposed to clean air or 0.8 ppm ozone for 4 h in whole body chambers. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis involvement in ozone effects was tested through subcutaneous administration of the glucocorticoid synthesis inhibitor metyrapone (50 mg/kg body weight), corticosterone (10 mg/kg body weight), or vehicle (40% propylene glycol) prior to exposure. A glucose tolerance test (2 g/kg body weight glucose) was conducted immediately after exposure, with blood samples collected at 0, 30, 60, 90, and 120 min. Ozone exposure impaired glucose tolerance, an effect accompanied by increased plasma triglycerides but no impairment of insulin release. Ozone diminished glucagon, GLP-1, and ghrelin responses to glucose, but did not significantly impact inflammatory/endothelial analytes. Metyrapone reduced corticosterone but increased glucose and triglycerides, complicating evaluation of the impact of glucocorticoid inhibition. However, administration of corticosterone reproduced the profile of ozone effects, supporting a role for the HPA axis. The results show that ozone-dependent changes in glucose tolerance are accompanied by altered metabolic and endocrine responses to glucose challenge that are reproduced by exogenous stress hormone.


  • Thomson, Errol M
  • Pilon, Shinjini
  • Guénette, Josée
  • Williams, Andrew
  • Holloway, Alison

publication date

  • March 2018