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Environ Health Perspect. 1990 Apr;85:209-18.

Airflow, gas deposition, and lesion distribution in the nasal passages.

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Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.


The nasal passages of laboratory animals and man are complex, and lesions induced in the delicate nasal lining by inhaled air pollutants vary considerably in location and nature. The distribution of nasal lesions is generally a consequence of regional deposition of the inhaled material, local tissue susceptibility, or a combination of these factors. Nasal uptake and regional deposition are are influenced by numerous factors including the physical and chemical properties of the inhaled material, such as water solubility and reactivity; airborne concentration and length of exposure; the presence of other air contaminants such as particulate matter; nasal metabolism, and blood and mucus flow. For certain highly water-soluble or reactive gases, nasal airflow patterns play a major role in determining lesion distribution. Studies of nasal airflow in rats and monkeys, using casting and molding techniques combined with a water-dye model, indicate that nasal airflow patterns are responsible for characteristic differences in the distribution of nasal lesions induced by formaldehyde in these species. Local tissue susceptibility is also a complex issue that may be a consequence of many factors, including physiologic and metabolic characteristics of the diverse cell populations that comprise each of the major epithelial types lining the airways. Identification of the principal factors that influence the distribution and nature of nasal lesions is important when attempting the difficult process of determining potential human risks using data derived from laboratory animals. Toxicologic pathologists can contribute to this process by carefully identifying the site and nature of nasal lesions induced by inhaled materials.

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