Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser.

This website may not display properly with Internet Explorer. For the best experience, please use a more recent browser such as the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and/or Mozilla Firefox. Thank you.

Your Environment. Your Health.


Export to Word (
Principal Investigator: Antony, Veena B.
Institute Receiving Award University Of Alabama At Birmingham
Location Birmingham, AL
Grant Number R01ES029981
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 21 Sep 2018 to 30 Jun 2023
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The lung is a major portal for respirable environmental toxicants including heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd), which is recognized to cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is the third largest cause of mortality in the US. Airway remodeling with loss of the lumen of small airways and airflow obstruction precede airspace enlargement and emphysema. Airway remodeling is associated with a profusion of airway fibroblasts and an increase in extracellular matrix proteins. Vimentin is an intracellular type 3 filament that can trigger peribronchial fibrosis. The prevalence of COPD is twice as high in a zip code where a Superfund site is located in Birmingham, Alabama when compared to a control zip code with similar demographics and smoking prevalence. We postulate that chronic low dose cadmium (Cd) exposure induces alterations in vimentin-mitochondrial dynamics that results in mitochondrial dysfunction and aberrant activation of peribronchiolar fibroblasts leading to bronchiolar luminal narrowing and subsequent COPD. We will examine this hypothesis in the following specific aims: (1) Determine whether exposure to Cd in a cohort of smokers and never-smokers from a Birmingham community predicts susceptibility to airway remodeling and COPD. (2) Determine the mechanisms by which Cd mediates alterations in vimentin-mitochondrial dynamics to regulate fibroblast activation. (3) Determine whether low dose Cd, or pSer39Vim induced airway remodeling and airspace enlargement in a mouse model of COPD is associated with fibroblast invasion, ECM deposition and apoptosis resistance. These studies will directly address a significant gap in our understanding of how cadmium contributes to the pathogenesis of COPD and the role of vimentin filaments in mitochondrial homeostasis. Early biomarkers of COPD in exhaled breath condensate may help us recognize disease susceptibility. Importantly, these studies may provide novel therapeutic strategies in patients with COPD.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 69 - Respiratory
Publications See publications associated with this Grant.
Program Officer Danielle Carlin
to Top