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Inhal Toxicol. 2011 Feb;23(2):112-20. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2010.548838.

Short-term inhalation of stainless steel welding fume causes sustained lung toxicity but no tumorigenesis in lung tumor susceptible A/J mice.

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Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Health Effects Laboratory Division, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA.


Debate exists as to whether welding fume is carcinogenic, but epidemiological evidence suggests that welders are an at-risk population for development of lung cancer. Our objective was to expose, by inhalation, lung tumor susceptible (A/J) and resistant C57BL/6J (B6) mice to stainless steel (SS) welding fume containing carcinogenic metals and characterize the lung-inflammatory and tumorigenic response. Male mice were exposed to air or gas metal arc (GMA)-SS welding fume at 40 mg/m(3)×3 h/day for 6 and 10 days. At 1, 4, 7, 10, 14, and 28 days after 10 days of exposure, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was done. Lung cytotoxicity, permeability, inflammatory cytokines, and cell differentials were analyzed. For the lung tumor study, gross tumor counts and histopathological changes were assessed in A/J mice at 78 weeks after 6 and 10 days of exposure. Inhalation of GMA-SS fume caused an early, sustained macrophage and lymphocyte response followed by a gradual neutrophil influx and the magnitudes of these differed between the mouse strains. Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were increased in both strains while the B6 also had increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) protein. BAL measures of cytotoxicity and damage were similar between the strains and significantly increased at all time points. Histopathology and tumorigenesis were unremarkable at 78 weeks. In conclusion, GMA-SS welding fume induced a significant and sustained inflammatory response in both mouse strains with no recovery by 28 days. Under our exposure conditions, GMA-SS exposure resulted in no significant tumor development in A/J mice.

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