Metal-rich Ambient Particles (Particulate Matter2.5)
Cause Airway Inflammation in Healthy Subjects
Frank Schaumann, Paul J. A. Borm, Andreas Herbrich, Johannes Knoch, Mike Pitz, Roel P. F. Schins,
Birgit Luettig, Jens M. Hohlfeld, Joachim Heinrich, and Norbert Krug
Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, Hannover; Institut fur Umweltmedizinische Forschung, Duesseldorf;
and GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany
Hettstedt and Zerbst particles in a mouse model of ovalbumin-
Epidemiologic studies have shown an increased prevalence of aller-
gic asthma in children living in a German smelter area (Hettstedt) induced allergic airway disease (5). They demonstrated that an
compared with a cohort who live in a nonindustrialized area intratracheal instillation of an equal mass of PM2.5 collected in
(Zerbst). However, it is not known whether ambient particles (par- 1999 in Hettstedt, but not that collected in Zerbst, caused a
ticulate matter2.5 [PM2.5]) from these areas induce distinct lung in- signiﬁcant increase in airway responsiveness and lung inﬂamma-
flammation, which might be an explanation for this difference. tion. Levels of transition metals (including zinc, copper, and
Therefore, 100 g of PM2.5 suspensions, collected simultaneously cadmium) and oxidant generation (6) were several fold increased
in the two areas, were instilled through a bronchoscope into contra-
in PM2.5 from Hettstedt compared with Zerbst. Although epide-
lateral lung segments of 12 healthy volunteers. PM2.5 from both
miology and animal toxicology demonstrate convincing consis-
Hettstedt and Zerbst increased the number of leukocytes in the
tency, it is unclear whether humans subjected to equal masses
bronchoalveolar lavage performed 24 hours later. PM2.5 from Hett-
of PM2.5 from these areas react with distinct inﬂammatory reac-
stedt, but not Zerbst, induced a significant influx of monocytes (Hett-
tions of the lung. Therefore, in a ﬁrst approach, the aim of this
stedt: 7.0% vs. Zerbst: 4.3%) without influencing the expression of
study was to instill PM2.5 suspensions collected simultaneously
surface activation markers on monocytes and alveolar macrophages.
from Hettstedt and Zerbst into two different lung segments of
Oxidant radical generation of bronchoalveolar lavage cells and cyto-
healthy nonallergic subjects. To reﬂect environmentally relevant
kine concentration (interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor- ) in
conditions, low masses of 100 g PM2.5 from both cities were
bronchoalveolar lavage fluid was significantly increased after instilla-
used. We tested the hypothesis that PM2.5 from both cities would
tion of Hettstedt PM2.5. We conclude that environmentally relevant
enhance bronchial inﬂammation and oxidative stress, and that
concentrations of PM2.5 from the smelter area induced distinct airway
inflammation in healthy subjects with a selective influx of monocytes the effect of PM from Hettstedt would be more pronounced than
and increased generation of oxidant radicals. The higher concentra- that from Zerbst. Some of the results of this study have been
tion of transition metals in PM2.5 from Hettstedt might be responsible previously reported in the form of an abstract (7).
for this increased inflammation.
Keywords: air pollution, bronchoscopy; monocytes; oxidants
Collection of Fine Particles (PM2.5) and Filter Preparation
Cross-sectional epidemiologic studies in eastern Germany have
The sample period was between January 8, 2002 and June 18, 2002.
clearly shown that regional differences in ambient particulate
We used a Graseby Anderson Dichotomous Sampler Series 240 (At-
matter (PM) concentration are associated with differences in the
lanta, GA) with Anderson Teﬂon membrane ﬁlters (37 mm diameter,
prevalence of respiratory and allergic diseases. School children
pore size of 2 m) for particle collection. Further details have been
living in the smelter area of Hettstedt, which was strongly im- previously described (8). PM was removed by a procedure including
pacted by PM during the 1980s and in the early 1990s, had a repetitive manual agitation (5 minutes) followed by sonication in a sonica-
signiﬁcantly higher prevalence of allergies and bronchitis com- tion water bath for 10 minutes in sterile, pyrogen-free water (8). The
pared with children living in the rural control area of Zerbst (1). resulting suspension was diluted to a concentration of 200 g/ml based
After the German reuniﬁcation, levels of total PM were reduced on ﬁlter loading. LPS was determined using the quantitative kinetic
and PM concentrations converged between different areas Limulus Amebocyte Lysate method (Kinetic-QCL, BioWhittaker, Walk-
erville, MD), as previously described (8). Hydroxyl radical generation
throughout the 1990s. The differences in the prevalence rates
of the particle suspensions was measured using electron paramagnetic
of nonallergic respiratory symptoms between the two cities de-
resonance, as described previously (6). Inductively coupled plasma mass
creased and lung function impairment improved along with im-
spectrometry (ICP-MS, ELEMENT2; Finnigan MAT, Bremen, Germany)
proved air quality (2–4). However, the difference in the prevalence
was used to determine the concentrations of transition metals in the
of allergies remained (4), which indicates that the composition
aqueous suspensions of PM.
of Hettstedt PM may contribute to the higher prevalence of For the instillation experiments, PM2.5 suspensions from each area
allergies in that area independently of particle mass. This ques- with low endotoxin concentration were selected (Figure 1). Samples
tion has been investigated by Gavett and coworkers, who applied from Weeks 1, 6, and 8–11 were pooled, adjusted to 50 g/ml PM using
sterile saline, aliquoted in 2 ml, and stored at 80 C until the day of
bronchoscopy. Before instillation, samples were adjusted to 10 ml with
sterile saline solution to a resulting PM2.5 concentration of 100 g/10 ml.
(Received in original form March 29, 2004; accepted in final form June 28, 2004)
Supported by grants from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 587, project
The study population consisted of 12 healthy subjects (8 women and
B9), Fraunhofer Society, Institut fuer Umweltmedizinische Forschung, and GSF-
4 men, mean age 27 2.5 years). Each subject had a normal physical
National Research Center for Environment and Health.
examination, normal lung function test results, and no clinically relevant
Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Norbert Krug,
laboratory test ﬁndings. None of the subjects had elevated serum IgE
M.D., Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, Nikolai-
( 100 IU/ml), bronchial hyperresponsivesness (PC20 [provocative con-
Fuchs-Str. 1, Hannover 30625, Germany. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
centration] 8 mg/ml methacholine), a positive skin-prick test (20
Am J Respir Crit Care Med Vol 170. pp 898–903, 2004
major inhalative allergens), or infections of the respiratory tract within
Originally Published in Press as DOI: 10.1164/rccm.200403-423OC on June 30, 2004
the last month. Current smokers, persons living or working with smok-
Internet address: www.atsjournals.org
Schaumann, Borm, Herbrich, et al.: Metal-rich PM2.5 and Airway Inflammation 899
TABLE 1. METAL CONCENTRATION ( g/L) IN SELECTED
Figure 1. Endotoxin (EU) PM2.5 SUSPENSIONS FROM HETTSTEDT AND ZERBST
concentration (upper MEASURED BY INDUCTIVELY COUPLED PLASMA
MASS SPECTROMETRY (MEAN SD)
panel) and hydroxyl radical
activity measured by elec-
Hettstedt Zerbst Ratio Hettstedt/Zerbst
tron paramagnetic reso-
nance (EPR) (measured as Cd 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 1.8
Pb 7.8 1.0 7.0 1.9 1.1
arbitrary units (AU) (lower
V 9.0 3.0 7.4 2.6 1.2
panel) of particulate mat-
Cr 3.4 1.6 2.2 0.2 1.6
ter2.5 (PM2.5) filter suspen-
Fe 93.9 36.4 83.1 42.8 1.3
sions sampled weekly in
Ni 17.2 6.7 7.2 3.6 2.4
2002 in the areas of Hett- Cu 123.6 53.4 35.6 10.3 3.5
stedt (dots) and Zerbst (tri- Zn 691.7 601.2 148.3 36.6 4.7
angles). The indicated sam-
ples (marked in gray) with
low EU concentrations in
both areas were pooled
Flow Cytometric Phenotyping of BAL Cells
for instillation (Weeks 1, 6,
8–11). Using an EPICS XL ﬂow cytometer (Beckmann Coulter), BAL cells were
differentiated by size, autoﬂuorescence in the FITC channel (540 nm),
and the expression of surface markers: (1 ) alveolar macrophages: large
cells, high granularity, and autoﬂuorescence, positive for CD14low, (2 )
monocytes: moderate size, granularity, and autoﬂuorescence, brightly
positive for CD14high, (3 ) lymphocytes: small size, low granularity, and
ers, and former smokers, who smoked during the last 5 years or more
autoﬂuorescence, negative for CD14, (4 ) neutrophils: similar in size to
than 5 pack-years, were excluded from the study. The exposure to
monocytes with stronger granularity, positive for CD 16. The data of
tobacco smoke was controlled by the measurement of cotinine excretion
104 cells were recorded and analyzed using EXPO 32 and EXPO 32
in the urine at both bronchoscopy days (inclusion criteria: cotinine
MultiComp software (Beckmann Coulter). Fluorescence was expressed
concentration 20 ng/ml).
as mean ﬂuorescence intensity for each speciﬁc antibody proportional
The study protocol was approved by the ethics committee of the
to the values of mean ﬂuorescence intensity of the isotype control.
Hannover Medical School. Before study inclusion, a written informed
consent was obtained from each subject.
Oxygen Radical Generation of BAL Cells
Oxidant radical generation of BAL cells was measured via chemilumines-
Bronchoscopy and Bronchoalveolar Lavage
cence (Berthold LB 96 Microlumat; EG&G Berthold, Bad Wildbad,
After premedication (inhalation of 200 g salbutamol; atropine, 0.5 mg Germany). BAL cells (2 105) were preincubated with 10 l of 12 mM
subcutaneously; and midazolam, 2–5 mg intravenously) and local anes- lucigenin (Sigma, Taufkirchen, Germany) in PBS for 30 minutes (sponta-
thesia with topical lidocaine, a bronchoscopy was performed according neous oxidant generation) followed by addition of 10 l zymosan A
to our standard protocol (9), which is consistent with international solution (12 mg/ml in PBS; Sigma) (stimulated oxidant generation mea-
recommendations for ﬁberoptic bronchoscopy (10). During the ﬁrst sured for 45 minutes). The data were expressed as integrated relative
bronchoscopy, the bronchoscope (BF 160 P, Olympus Optical, Tokyo, light units).
Japan) was wedged into one segment of the left lower lobe for a baseline
Biochemical Assays in BAL Fluid
bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) with 5 20 ml saline solution (37 C).
The instrument was passed into the right upper lobe and 10 ml of saline Interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor- protein con-
was instilled into one segment as a control challenge. Then, 100 g PM tent in nonconcentrated BAL ﬂuid were measured by ELISA according
suspension from Hettstedt and 100 g PM suspension from Zerbst to the manufacturer’s recommendations (R&D Systems, Wiesbaden,
Germany). Total BAL ﬂuid protein content was determined with Pyro-
(each in 10 ml saline) were introduced into a segment of the middle
gallol red (Auto kit Micro TP; Wako Chemicals, Neuss, Germany).
lobe and the lingula, respectively. All instillations were performed using
Albumin was quantiﬁed using Turbodimetric Immunoassay (Micro-
new microcatheters (Vygon, Aachen, Germany). After 24 hours, a
Albumin B; Wako), and lactate dehydrogenase was determined using
second bronchoscopy was performed, and three BALs were performed
an enzymatic color test.
on the same segments challenged the day before.
Processing of BAL Cells
BAL ﬂuid samples were processed as previously described (9). Brieﬂy,
cells were ﬁltered through a 100 m ﬁlter, centrifuged, and the superna-
tant was aliquoted and stored at 80 C. The total nucleated cell count
was performed using a Neubauer hemocytometer. Differential cell counts
were done using Diff-Quick staining (Dade Behring Inc., Marburg,
Germany) of cytospin slides and counting 400 cells per slide.
105 BAL cells were used
For immunoﬂuorescence labeling, 1.5
for each test. Biotinylated monoclonal antibodies against CD14, CD16
(Beckmann Coulter, Krefeld, Germany), CD64, HLA-DR (Becton
Dickinson, Heidelberg, Germany), CD71 (Caltag, Hamburg, Germany),
CD54, CD11b, 27E10, CD163 (Dianova, Hamburg, Germany), or iso-
type controls (Caltag) were added according to the manufacturer’s
recommendations and incubated for 30 minutes at 4 C. After wash-
ing with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), cells were incubated with
phycoerythrine-cyanine 5.1-conjugated Streptavidin (Beckman Coulter)
Figure 2. Total bronchoalveolar lavage cell count at baseline and after
for 30 minutes. The samples were lysed, ﬁxed (Lysing solution; Becton
challenges with saline and PM2.5 from Hettstedt and Zerbst. Values are
Dickinson), washed, resuspended in PBS, and kept on ice until ﬂow
the mean SD.
900 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF RESPIRATORY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE VOL 170 2004
TABLE 2. PERCENTAGE OF LEUKOCYTES IN Expression of Surface Markers on Alveolar Monocytes
BRONCHOALVEOLAR LAVAGE FLUID AT BASELINE and Macrophages
AND AFTER CHALLENGES WITH SALINE AND PM2.5
BAL monocytes were quantiﬁed by ﬂow cytometry on the basis
FROM HETTSTEDT AND ZERBST (MEAN SD)
of size, granularity, and staining characteristics (Figure 3). They
BAL Neutrophils (% ) Lymphocytes (% ) Macrophages (% )
showed an “immature” phenotype with CD71low, HLA-DRlow,
CD14high, and lower autoﬂuorescence intensity. Monocytes were
Baseline 1.2 1.2 7.0 3.6 91.8 3.6
Saline 3.2 3.6 6.5 2.2 89.8 4.1 smaller compared with macrophages that had a “mature” pheno-
Hettstedt 6.2 7.1 6.4 2.9 87.9 7.2
type with CD71high, HLA-DRhigh, CD14low, and high autoﬂuores-
Zerbst 3.7 4.6 5.3 2.1 90.9 5.0
cence. PM2.5 from Hettstedt (p 0.01), but not from Zerbst,
induced a signiﬁcant increase in the percentage of recruited
Definition of abbreviation: BAL bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.
monocytes into the alveolar space compared with saline (saline:
3.7 2.7%, Hettstedt: 7.0 3.4%, Zerbst: 4.3 2.0%; Figure
4). The expression of cell-surface markers, such as complement
receptor CD11b, endotoxin receptor CD14, Fc receptors CD16
and CD64, the marker of acute (CD54, 27E10) or late phase
Data are expressed as mean values SD. Differences between the
of inﬂammatory process (CD163), as well as HLA-DR, and
challenged segments were tested using a paired, two-tailed sample
transferrin receptor CD71 on the alveolar marcrophages and on
Sigma test (SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Probability values of p 0.05
the recruited monocytes, were not statistically different to the
were considered to be signiﬁcant.
control challenge in segments instilled with the PM2.5 from Zerbst
or Hettstedt (Table 3).
Analysis of PM2.5 Suspensions Oxidant Radical Generation of Stimulated BAL Cells
Figure 1 shows the endotoxin concentrations and the hydroxyl After zymosan stimulation, BAL cells from the segment exposed
radical generation in the PM2.5 suspensions for each of the 21 to PM2.5 from Hettstedt showed an increase in oxidant radical
weekly collection periods in Hettstedt and Zerbst. For the instil- generation compared with cells after saline challenge (p 0.01,
lation, we selected samples with low endotoxin concentrations Figure 5). There were no differences without stimulation (data
and with no obvious differences between samples of both loca- not shown). PM2.5 from Zerbst had neither an inﬂuence on the
tions (Weeks 1, 6, 8–11). The total PM2.5 mass on ﬁlters from spontaneous nor on the stimulated oxidant radical generation
these selected weeks was 13.1 mg for Hettstedt and 16.1 mg for of BAL cells compared with the control challenge.
Zerbst. The metal concentrations in the selected samples are
Biochemical Assays in BAL Fluid
given in Table 1. The LPS concentration in the pooled PM2.5
suspensions from the selected weeks was close to the detection PM2.5 from Hettstedt, but not Zerbst, augmented IL-6 production
limit of 0.005 EU/ml in both samples (Hettstedt: 0.012 EU/ml; (p 0.01) and the concentration of tumor necrosis factor- (p
Zerbst: 0.010 EU/ml). 0.02) in the challenged segment compared with the saline chal-
lenged segment (Table 4). However, there was no effect on IL-8
Differential Cell Count of BAL Fluid
and IL-1 concentration. Instillation of PM2.5 from both Hettstedt
BAL ﬂuid recovery was slightly less in the baseline BAL from the and Zerbst did not result in statistically signiﬁcant differences
left lower lobe (68.5 13.7 ml), but recovery was not different of total protein, albumin, and LDH in the BAL ﬂuid compared
between the BAL samples from the challenged segments (saline: with the control challenge with saline solution (data not shown).
72.3 10.0 ml, Hettstedt: 79.8 6.4 ml, Zerbst: 78.0 7.9 ml).
The PM2.5 from both Hettstedt and Zerbst led to a signiﬁcant
increase in the total BAL cells (Figure 2). There was no signiﬁ-
This study was performed to investigate the effect of an endo-
cant difference in the percentages of neutrophils, lymphocytes,
bronchial instillation of PM2.5 suspension from the two German
and macrophages after instillation of either PM compared with
cities, Hettstedt (industrial smelter area) and Zerbst (rural con-
saline, although a trend toward an increased percentage of neu-
trophils was seen after instillation of Hettstedt dust (Table 2). trol area), in healthy subjects. The cities are located 80 km apart
Figure 3. Flow cytometric dot plot (side scatter vs.
autofluorescence intensity) of BAL cells from a repre-
sentative subject after saline challenge (left panel) and
challenge with PM2.5 (right panel) from Hettstedt.
Monocytes demonstrate lower granularity and auto-
fluorescence intensity compared with macrophages.
Schaumann, Borm, Herbrich, et al.: Metal-rich PM2.5 and Airway Inflammation 901
with high expression of CD14 and increased tumor necrosis
factor- gene expression, are newly recruited peripheral blood
monocytes, which are primed for enhanced cytokine production
(13). This inﬂux of CD14high monocytes has also been described
after segmental instillation of endotoxin (14) and after allergen
provocation (15). Furthermore, increased numbers of these cells
were found in chronic inﬂammatory lung diseases (16). There-
fore, the monocyte inﬂux seems to be a rather nonspeciﬁc in-
ﬂammatory reaction of the lung to different stimuli. It may be
surprising that we found only a relatively small nonsigniﬁcant
increase in neutrophils after PM instillation. A possible reason is
the late time point of BAL sampling at 24 hours after instillation
because neutrophils are usually recruited earlier. Furthermore,
Figure 4. Percentages of BAL monocytes quantified by flow cytometry
the low PM concentration and, in particular, the very low endo-
at baseline and after challenges with saline and PM2.5 from Hettstedt
toxin concentration are further possible explanations.
and Zerbst. Values are the mean SD.
An earlier clinical study applied a similar approach using
the endobronchial instillation of metal-rich, water-soluble PM10
extracts from Utah Valley (17). Ghio and Devlin demonstrated
that exposure to PM10 extracts collected before closure and after
and are similar in climate and size. The environment of the
reopening of a steel mill provoked greater airway inﬂammation
Hettstedt region is contaminated with heavy metals as a result
relative to PM extracts acquired during plant shutdown in
of an over 800-year history of mining and smelting of nonferrous
healthy subjects. However, this trial has several major differ-
metals, including lead and copper (11). Whereas both PM sus-
ences compared with our study. First of all, we used particle
pensions increased the total BAL cell count, only the instillation
suspensions and not water-soluble, autoclaved extracts. This
of the Hettstedt PM2.5 induced a selective inﬂux of CD14high
allows the interaction of particle core and biological constituents
monocytes, together with increased cytokine secretion (IL-6,
with bronchial epithelium and macrophages. Second, both the
tumor necrosis factor- ) and elevated oxidant radical generation
particle fraction (PM2.5 in our study vs. PM10 in the Utah Valley
in BAL cells.
study) and the dose in our study (100 g vs. 500 g) are closer
Because an equal mass of 100 g was instilled from both
to the normal exposure of a lung segment to environmental
cities, speciﬁc dust components, but not the particle dose, must
particles. In the Utah Valley study, 500 g of lyophilized water-
be responsible for this effect. The concentration of LPS was just
soluble extract was instilled with an extraction fraction of 15–
above the detection limit for both ﬁlter extracts. This excludes
26% of the sampled PM10 mass, which means that at least a
an LPS effect on the different inﬂammatory responses. However,
fourfold higher corresponding PM10 mass has to be considered.
transition metals (in particular zinc and copper) were consider-
The low dose of 100 g PM2.5 chosen in our study is similar to
ably elevated in Hettstedt PM2.5. Increased metal concentration
the amount that would be deposited into a lung lobe during
and consequent oxidative stress is known to promote activation
24 hours of normal breathing, when PM2.5 exceeds 100 g/m3.
of cell signaling and transcription factors, which lead to increased
This is a realistic scenario during wintertime in the investigated
release of proinﬂammatory mediator release. In particular zinc
areas. Therefore, a strength of our study is that environmentally
has been shown to be one of the major components of environ-
relevant PM concentrations were used. We show that this low
mental PM, which induces pulmonary cell reactivity and epithe-
exposure to metal-rich PM2.5 induces mild acute airway inﬂam-
lial damage in animals (12). Indeed, we show here that PM
mation, which probably causes or aggravates chronic airway
suspensions from Hettstedt had considerably elevated oxidant
diseases, in particular when chronically inhaled. Third, the design
activity as compared with Zerbst, which leads to an increased
of our study was not the comparison of particles from one loca-
generation of secondary oxidant radicals in BAL cells 24 hours
tion in time, as it was done in Utah Valley, but two locations
after instillation. This was, however, not reﬂected in a decrease of
sampled at the same time. Additionally, in our study, the two
glutathione and total extracellular antioxidants (data not shown).
PM instillations were done within each subject at the same time.
Apart from a small but nonsigniﬁcant inﬂux of neutrophils,
This reduces the degree of variation and the number of volun-
we observed a signiﬁcant inﬂux of monocytes into the airways
teers (n 12). In the previous study, a parallel group design
after Hettstedt PM instillation. Previously, Maus and coworkers
showed in a mouse model that this population of monocytes, was used with three different groups (n 30).
TABLE 3. EXPRESSION OF SURFACE RECEPTORS (MEASURED AS MEAN FLUORESCENCE INTENSITY) IN RELATION TO ISOTYPE
CONTROL ON BRONCHOALVEOLAR LAVAGE FLUID MONOCYTES AND MACROPHAGES AT BASELINE AND AFTER
CHALLENGES WITH SALINE AND PM2.5 FROM HETTSTEDT AND ZERBST (MEAN SD)
BAL CD11b CD14 CD16 CD54 CD64 CD71 CD163 27E10 HLA-DR
Baseline 3.2 2.7 2.9 1.8 1.9 1.0 2.0 1.2 1.1 0.2 1.1 0.2 1.4 0.6 1.2 0.4 9.7 7.1
Saline 3.8 2.1 4.1 2.0 2.0 0.8 2.1 0.6 1.3 0.4 1.0 0.1 2.0 1.9 1.4 0.6 11.4 7.2
Hettstedt 2.8 2.1 6.5 6.2 2.5 1.6 2.9 2.1 1.3 0.6 1.4 0.3 1.7 0.8 1.3 0.6 16.5 13.5
Zerbst 2.5 1.1 4.2 2.7 2.3 1.6 2.2 0.9 1.1 0.3 1.0 0.2 1.3 0.5 1.1 0.2 11.7 7.4
Baseline 2.4 1.3 2.0 1.1 4.2 2.6 1.7 1.0 2.0 0.9 6.0 3.1 2.6 1.7 2.4 1.1 38.4 27.7
Saline 3.5 2.5 1.7 0.8 4.0 2.7 2.0 1.2 2.4 1.4 6.1 2.8 4.6 8.5 2.8 2.8 43.3 39.3
Hettstedt 3.2 2.8 2.0 1.24 4.7 4.1 2.7 1.6 2.6 1.6 7.0 5.0 3.1 1.7 2.8 1.9 46.9 30.5
Zerbst 2.6 1.3 1.8 1.3 3.9 1.9 2.3 1.4 2.3 1.3 6.6 4.6 2.6 1.1 2.2 0.7 40.7 25.2
902 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF RESPIRATORY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE VOL 170 2004
study, they did not ﬁnd changes in surface expression of activa-
tion markers on macrophages. Gong and colleagues (22) have
conﬁrmed these studies in healthy subjects and subjects with
mild asthma using concentrated ambient air particles from Los
Angeles in a range of 99–224 g/m3. They were unable to detect
clear inﬂammatory changes in induced sputum 24 hours after
exposure. However, no data on metal content of the concen-
trated ambient air particles are available from either study.
Our study did not address whether subjects with asthma are
more susceptible to exposure to Hettstedt PM in comparison to
healthy subjects or the more difﬁcult question of whether and
how exposure to Hettstedt PM can initiate or trigger develop-
ment of allergic sensitization. Answers to these questions could
Figure 5. Oxidant radical generation measured by chemiluminescence
explain the increased prevalence of allergy in Hettstedt found
of zymosan-stimulated BAL cells at baseline and after challenges with
in epidemiologic studies. Chronically elevated levels of IL-6 and
saline and PM2.5 from Hettstedt and Zerbst. Values are the mean SD.
tumor necrosis factor- might play a role in this respect. Further
RLU relative luminescence units.
studies in allergy animal models and asthmatic subjects are nec-
essary and under way to answer these questions.
Conflict of Interest Statement : F.S. does not have a financial relationship with a
The importance of the Utah Valley study is that it was possible
commercial entity that has an interest in the subject of this article; P.J.A.B. does
to correlate the pulmonary effects of experimental human expo- not have a financial relationship with a commercial entity that has an interest in
sure with effects found in animal exposure studies and health the subject of this article; A.H. does not have a financial relationship with a
outcomes observed in epidemiologic studies when the same ma- commercial entity that has an interest in the subject of this article; J.K. does not
have a financial relationship with a commercial entity that has an interest in the
terial was inhaled under normal exposure conditions (18, 19).
subject of this article; M.P. does not have a financial relationship with a commercial
A similarly unique constellation is now apparent in Germany. entity that has an interest in the subject of this article; R.P.F.S. does not have a
Epidemiologic studies have clearly linked living in Hettstedt to financial relationship with a commercial entity that has an interest in the subject
of this article; B.L. does not have a financial relationship with a commercial entity
increased prevalence of airway diseases and allergies (1, 2, 4,
that has an interest in the subject of this article; J.M.H. does not have a financial
20). This prompted animal studies, which demonstrate increased relationship with a commercial entity that has an interest in the subject of this
airway inﬂammation in an asthma model after exposure to Hett- article; J.H. does not have a financial relationship with a commercial entity that
stedt PM (5). Our human exposure study adds to the scenario, has an interest in the subject of this article; N.K. does not have a financial relation-
ship with a commercial entity that has an interest in the subject of this article.
which shows increased airway inﬂammation after exposure to
Hettstedt PM. Acknowledgment : The authors thank B. Reubke-Gothe (Fraunhofer ITEM) for
An important conclusion from both studies is that transition technical assistance, W. Bischof (University of Jena, Germany) for the LPS measure-
metals might play an important role in the in vivo toxicity of ments, and Flemming Cassee (RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands) for the metal
ambient particles. However, the possibility remains that other
components of the particles, other than metal content and cata-
lyzed oxidants, contribute to the proinﬂammatory effects. Further-
more, environmental exposures do not involve nonphysiologic 1. Heinrich J, Hoelscher B, Wjst M, Ritz B, Cyrys J, Wichmann H. Respira-
tory diseases and allergies in two polluted areas in East Germany.
instillation, which limits the comparison of instillation studies with
Environ Health Perspect 1999;107:53–62.
panel studies. Ongoing studies with a detailed analysis of particle
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