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Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Sep;105 Suppl 5:1279-83.

In vivo and in vitro proinflammatory effects of particulate air pollution (PM10).

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Unit of Respiratory Medicine, Napier University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.


Epidemiologic studies have reported associations between fine particulate air pollution, especially particles less than 10 mm in diameter (PM10), and the development of exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, the mechanism is unknown. We tested our hypothesis that PM10 induces oxidant stress, causing inflammation and injury to airway epithelium. We assessed the effects of intratracheal instillation of PM10 in rat lungs. The influx of inflammatory cells was measured in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Airspace epithelial permeability was assessed as total protein in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) in vivo. The oxidant properties of PM10 were determined by their ability to cause changes in reduced glutathione (GSH) and oxidized glutathione (GSSG). We also compared the effects of PM10 with those of fine (CB) and ultrafine (ufCB) carbon black particles. Six hours after intratracheal instillation of PM10, we noted an influx of neutrophils (up to 15% of total BAL cells) in the alveolar space, increased epithelial permeability, an increase in total protein in BALF from 0.39 +/- 0.01 to 0.62 +/- 0.01 mg/ml (mean +/- SEM) and increased lactate dehydrogenase concentrations in BALF. An even greater inflammatory response was observed after intratracheal instillation of ufCB, but not after CB instillation. PM10 had oxidant activity in vivo, as shown by decreased GSH in BALF (from 0.36 +/- 0.05 to 0.25 +/- 0.01 nmol/ml) after instillation. BAL leukocytes from rats treated with PM10 produced greater amounts of nitric oxide, measured as nitrite (control 3.07 +/- 0.33, treated 4.45 +/- 0.23 mM/1 x 10(6) cells) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (control 21.0 +/- 3.1, treated 179.2 +/- 29.4 unit/1 x 10(6) cells) in culture than BAL leukocytes obtained from control animals. These studies provide evidence that PM10 has free radical activity and causes lung inflammation and epithelial injury. These data support our hypothesis concerning the mechanism for the adverse effects of particulate air pollution on patients with airway diseases.

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