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Part Fibre Toxicol. 2018 Feb 12;15(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s12989-018-0247-3.

Editorial: dose-dependent ZnO particle-induced acute phase response in humans warrants re-evaluation of occupational exposure limits for metal oxides.

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National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark.
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands.
Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Epidemiological studies link inhalation of particles to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Inhaled particles may induce cardiovascular disease by several different mechanisms including translocation of particles to systemic circulation, activation of airway sensory nerves resulting in autonomic imbalance and particle-induced pulmonary inflammation and acute phase response.The acute phase response is the systemic response to acute and chronic inflammatory states caused by for example bacterial infection, virus infection, trauma and infarction. It is characterized by differential expression of ca. 50 different acute phase proteins including C-reactive protein and Serum amyloid A, which are the most differentially up-regulated acute phase response proteins. Blood levels of these two acute phase proteins are closely associated with risk of cardiovascular disease in epidemiological studies and SAA has been causally related to the formation of plaques in the aorta in animal studies.In a recent paper in Particle and Fibre Toxicology, Christian Monsé et al. provide evidence that inhalation of ZnO nanoparticles induces dose-dependent acute phase response in humans at dose levels well below the current mass-based occupational exposure limits in a number of countries including Germany, The Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Denmark and the US.Given the evidence suggesting a causal relationship between increased levels of serum amyloid A and atherosclerosis, the current results call for a re-evaluation of occupational exposure limits for a number of particle exposures including ZnO taking induction of acute phase response into account. Furthermore, it underscores cardiovascular disease as an occupational disease.

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