ADMA: A Novel Mediator in Organic Dust-mediated Allergic and Non-allergic Asthma
Todd Wyatt, PhD

Modern, industrialized farming practices have led to working conditions that include high levels of airborne dust. Agricultural workers inhale these complex organic dusts daily, leading to airway inflammation and a higher risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The mechanisms regulating the organic dust-induced airway inflammatory response in the lung are not well defined. Lung inflammation is associated with changes in airway nitric oxide levels and increased protein kinase C activation. We investigated whether overexpression of a nitric-oxide protective enzyme (DDAH) would lead to decreased pulmonary inflammation in an animal model of organic dust exposure. We instilled wild-type (WT) and DDAH overexpressing mice with an aqueous organic dust extract (ODE) collected from a swine confinement building. We found that:

  • Inflammatory cells and cytokines were lower in the DDAH overexpressing mice compared to WT after ODE instillation.
  • Dust-stimulated increased in protein kinase C were diminished in the DDAH overexpressing mice.
  • We also tested an important component of the ODE, peptidoglycan (PGN).  We noted a similar decrease in neutrophils and inflammatory cytokines in the DDAH overexpressing animals instilled with PGN compared to WT.                           


1. McCaskill, M. L., D. J. Romberger, K. L. Bailey, J. A. Poole and T. A. Wyatt. Alcohol exposure alters mouse lung inflammation in response to inhaled dust. Nutrients 4:695-710, 2012                               

2. Golden, G. A., T. A. Wyatt, D. J. Romberger, D. Reiff, M. L. McCaskill, C. Bauer, A. M. Gleason, J. A. Poole. Vitamin D treatment modulates organic dust-induced cellular and airway inflammatory consequences. Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology (In Press).                                                      

3. Poole, J. A., D. J. Romberger, C. Bauer, A. M. Gleason, J. H. Sisson, P. Oldenburg, W. W. W. West, and T. A. Wyatt. Protein Kinase C epsilon is Important in Modulating Organic Dust-Induced Airway Inflammation. Exp. Lung Research (In Press), 2012.

 Surveillance of Agricultural Injuries in the Central States Region 
Risto Rautiainen, PhD

The objective of this project is to develop an innovative, cost-effective system for the surveillance of injuries in agriculture. We will conduct an annual survey of injuries in the Central States region, linked with existing data on farm production and operator characteristics from the Census of Agriculture. We will use the data from the surveillance system to describe injuries and injured persons, estimate rates of injury and identify risk factors for injury. With this project we will demonstrate the feasibility of a model for injury surveillance that is capable of identifying high priority populations and injury risk factors and following risk trends over time. This project is a collaboration of UNMC and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

 Pilot Project: Grain Dust Exposure in the Allergic Lung
Jane Schuh, PhD

Agricultural operators are regularly exposed to a complex mix of chemical, biological, and particulate insults, any of which may cause or aggravate chronic lung dysfunction. There is a critical need for pulmonary research in this area, and this pilot project will provide preliminary data for further work in the area of combinatorial agricultural exposures. We will use an experimental animal model of fungal allergic asthma that was developed in our laboratory as the background for exposure to corn grain dust which will be collected from various sources. We will identify bacterial and fungal species in the samples and determine mycotoxin contamination on each sample to help focus the larger project. The research is intended to allow farmers and ranchers to make evidence-based health and safety decisions for their animals, families, and communities.

Pilot Project: Development of a Multi-State Capacity to Disseminate and Evaluate the Efficacy of a Web-based Stress-management Program for Agricultural Producers
Kay Slama, PhD, MSS, LP

Patrick Hart, PhD

Stress is a significant cause of mental health and medical problems in the agricultural population. However, these mental health needs are insufficiently met. This pilot project will create a consortium from four states to develop and submit a grant application to disseminate and evaluate a model, multi-state on-line Dealing with Stress (DWS) workshop series for agricultural producers.  The approach to creating the partnership is an invitational symposium conducted in a blended in-person and web-based mode. The symposium would (a) identify the four states’ agricultural communication resources and stakeholder organizations appropriate to forming the consortium and following through with a proposal, (b) develop outcome measures of the effectiveness of the DWS and multi-state dissemination effort, and (c) identify agricultural and rural mental health data bases that will support both the DWS evaluation and surveillance action steps of intermediate NORA Goal 5.5.


Pilot Project: Pre-professional Perceptions of Safety and Quality Concerns in Agricultural Work Environments
Gretchen Mosher, PhD

A strong positive correlation between low agricultural quality and occupational safety risk has been documented, yet college students may not be aware the two concepts are associated. While college students have some agricultural safety knowledge from both classroom and life experiences, agricultural undergraduates generally have little exposure to the principles of quality management. Furthermore, little research has studied the interaction between safety and quality climate perceptions in this setting nor has a comprehensive study been completed on how undergraduates in agriculture perceive the interaction between quality and safety.  A stratified random sample of undergraduate students in Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be surveyed. Results will provide baseline data for further work on the interaction between quality management and occupational safety in agriculture, as well as provide guidance on the development of an agricultural-specific instrument to measure quality climate.


Pilot Project: Chronic Bacterial Colonization, Agricultural Exposure and COPD
Tricia LeVan, PhD

The central hypothesis of this project is that the indigenous airway microbiome changes with obstruction and agricultural exposure (either a change in overall community structure or through limited bacterial diversity). The project will leverage a large ongoing cohort to recruit 20 COPD subjects with or without agricultural dust exposure. Through dual enrollment, the subjects will be a highly characterized group of subjects, which will provide novel insights into the contribution of changes in the lung microbiota utilizing 16S rDNA next generation sequencing technologies and systems science approaches. The specific aim of the proposal is to correlate changes in microbial structure or diversity with obstruction and agricultural exposure. With moderate to severe obstruction, we expect a decreased microbial diversity compared to those without obstruction. Furthermore, we anticipate the microbiome of subjects with exposure to agricultural dusts will be characterized by an increased prevalence and abundance of antibiotic resistance microbial genes compared to unexposed subjects.


Pilot Project: Stress and Mental Helath Among Latino Farmworkers
Athena Ramos, MS, MBA, CPM

Research has proven that Latinos experience a number of health disparities. Many of these disparities are occupationally related including disparities in mental health and substance abuse. The Stress & Mental Health Among Latino Farmworker project seeks to establish baseline data on Latino migrant farmworkers in Nebraska in relation to stress, depression, and alcohol use that result from their occupation. The project will consist of the creation of a Migrant Health Task Force, implementation of a questionnaire that is inclusive of the Migrant Farmworker Stress Inventory, CES-D depression screening, and the RAPS4-QF alcohol abuse screening, data analysis, and dissemination of the research results to researchers, practitioners, and community members alike.