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Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2018 Sep;8(9):993-1000. doi: 10.1002/alr.22167. Epub 2018 Jul 6.

The effect of urban particulate matter on cultured human nasal fibroblasts.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Clinical Research Institute, Daejeon St. Mary's Hospital, Daejeon, Republic of Korea.
Department of Ophthalmology, Daejeon St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



Exposure to urban particulate matter (UPM) has been linked to aggravation of various health problems. Although the effects of UPM on the lower respiratory tract have been extensively studied, more research is required on the impact of UPM on the upper respiratory tract and the underlying mechanisms. Thus, we investigated the cytotoxic effects of UPM on cultured human nasal fibroblasts, the underlying signaling pathways involved, and changes in cytokine levels.


Human turbinate tissue specimens were collected during partial turbinectomies performed on 6 patients, and then cultured. The effect of UPM on nasal fibroblast viability was explored. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was used to measure the mRNA levels of genes encoding cytokines and chemokines (interleukin [IL]-4, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α) before and after 24 hours of UPM treatment. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were employed to measure IL-6 and IL-8 levels. The status of the p38 and nuclear factor (NF)-κB signaling pathways was analyzed by Western blotting.


UPM reduced cell viability in a dose-dependent manner and increased IL-6 and IL-8 expression at both the mRNA and protein levels. UPM induced the phosphorylation of p38 and NF-κB p65; inhibitors of the actions of these proteins repressed phosphorylation and the expression of IL-6 and IL-8.


UPM induced IL-6 and IL-8 expression by fibroblasts via p38 and NF-κB classical signaling, suggesting that UPM can induce or aggravate allergic and/or chronic rhinitis.


air pollution; fibroblast; interleukin-6; interleukin-8; particulate matter


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