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Toxicol Sci. 2003 Apr;72(2):331-8.

Effect of preexposure to ultrafine carbon black on respiratory syncytial virus infection in mice.

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CIIT Centers for Health Research, 6 Davis Drive, P. O. Box 12137, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709-2137, USA.


Epidemiological studies have indicated that exposure to elevated levels of particulate matter exacerbates several pulmonary diseases, including asthma, bronchitis, and viral infections. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants and may lead to the development of asthma in childhood. To determine whether particle exposure modulates the immune response to RSV, eight-week-old female BALB/c mice received an intratracheal (i.t.) instillation of either 40 micro g ultrafine carbon black (CB) particles or vehicle. The following day, mice were i.t. instilled with either 106 pfu RSV or uninfected media. End points were examined 1, 2, 4, 7, and 10 days during RSV infection. Compared with RSV alone, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) protein was reduced in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) on days 1 and 2 of infection; there was also a reduction in BALF lymphocyte numbers on day 4, which correlated with reductions in both IFN-gamma-inducible protein (IP-10), lymphotactin, and IFN-gamma mRNAs in the lungs of RSV + CB mice. Multiprobe ribonuclease protection assays of RSV + CB lung tissue showed no changes in the RSV-associated chemokines regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES), eotaxin, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP-1), macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1 alpha or MIP-1 beta. Viral titers in RSV + CB mice were lower than RSV on days 2-4 of infection. By day 7 of infection, however, neutrophil numbers, proinflammatory cytokine mRNA expression, and protein levels of TNF-alpha and the Th2 cytokine interleukin (IL)-13 were increased in the lungs of RSV + CB mice, indicating an exacerbation of infection. These data indicate that preexposure to ultrafine particles induces an inflammatory milieu promoting allergic immune responses rather than IFNgamma production necessary for microbial defense.

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