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Am J Physiol. 1996 Jan;270(1 Pt 1):L123-32.

Alveolar macrophages modulate the epithelial cell response to coal dust in vitro.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey 17033, USA.


The response of the alveolar epithelium to coal dust exposure is poorly understood. Coal or other dusts may act on the epithelium directly or indirectly through nearby alveolar macrophages (AM) that produce cytokines and other soluble products. AM and type II pneumocytes (T2P) were thus exposed to dust in coculture to evaluate their possible interactions. Anthracite coal dust PSOC 867 increased synthesis of extracellular matrix (ECM) components by T2P. AM alone did not produce ECM. Similarly, coculture of T2P with AM (3.75:1) had little effect on epithelial ECM synthesis. In contrast, coculture of T2P with AM significantly increased PSOC 867 effects on T2P rates of ECM synthesis, ECM fibronectin content, and T2P levels of fibronectin mRNA. AM-conditioned medium did not change the PSOC 867 effect on T2P. Neither control nor PSOC 867-treated AM on Falcon culture inserts (0.45-micron pore size) over T2P stimulated ECM synthesis by either untreated or dust-exposed epithelium. Thus AM-mediated changes in ECM synthesis by PSOC 867-treated T2P require close cell-cell interactions, suggesting a role for cell-cell contact or for short-lived soluble mediators of the AM effects.

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