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Inhal Toxicol. 2003 Feb;15(2):131-50.

Effects of inhaled ambient particulate matter on pulmonary antimicrobial immune defense.

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New York University School of Medicine, Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, Tuxedo, NY 10987, USA.


Respiratory-tract infection, specifically pneumonia, contributes substantially to the increased morbidity and mortality among elderly individuals exposed to airborne particulate matter of <10 microm diameter (PM(10)). These epidemiological findings suggest that PM(10) may act as an immunosuppressive factor that can undermine normal pulmonary antimicrobial defense mechanisms. To investigate whether, and how, compromised pulmonary immunocompetence might contribute to increased mortality, two sets of laboratory studies were performed. The first examined the effects of a single inhalation exposure to concentrated ambient PM(2.5) (CAPS) from New York City air on pulmonary/systemic immunity and on the susceptibility of exposed aged rats to subsequent infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae. The second set of studies determined whether CAPS exposure, at a concentration approximating or somewhat greater than the promulgated 24-h NAAQS of 65 microg/m(3), could exacerbate an ongoing infection. Taken together, results demonstrated that a single exposure of healthy animals to CAPS had little effect on pulmonary immune function or bacterial clearance during subsequent challenge with S. pneumoniae. Alternatively, CAPS exposure of previously infected rats significantly increased bacterial burdens and decreased percentages of lavageable neutrophils and proinflammatory cytokine levels compared to those in infected filtered-air-exposed controls. These studies demonstrate that a single exposure to ambient PM(2.5) compromises a host's ability to handle ongoing pneumococcal infections and support the epidemiological findings of increased pneumonia-related deaths in ambient PM-exposed elderly individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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