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Enhanced response to ozone exposure during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.


Exposure to ozone (O3), a toxic component of photochemical smog, results in significant airway inflammation, respiratory discomfort, and pulmonary function impairment. These effects can be reduced via pretreatment with anti-inflammatory agents. Progesterone, a gonadal steroid, is known to reduce general inflammation in the uterine endometrium. However, it is not known whether fluctuations in blood levels of progesterone, which are experienced during the normal female menstrual cycle, could alter O3 inflammatory-induced pulmonary responses. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that young, adult females are more responsive to O3 inhalation with respect to pulmonary function impairment during their follicular (F) menstrual phase when progesterone levels are lowest than during their mid-luteal (ML) phase when progesterone levels are highest. Nine subjects with normal ovarian function were exposed in random order for 1 hr each to filtered air and to 0.30 ppm O3 in their F and ML menstrual phases. Ozone responsiveness was measured by percent change in pulmonary function from pre- to postexposure. Significant gas concentration effects (filtered air versus O3) were observed for forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1), and forced expiratory flow between 25 and 75% of FVC (FEF25-75; p < .05). More importantly, the pulmonary function flow rates, FEV1 and FEF25-75, showed a significant menstrual phase and gas concentration interaction effect, with larger decrements observed in the F menstrual phase when progesterone concentrations were significantly lower. We conclude that young, adult females appear to be more responsive to acute O3 exposure during the F phase than during the ML phase of their menstrual cycles.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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