The Response of a Co-culture Lung Model to Fine and Ultrafine Particles of Incinerator Fly Ash at the Air-liquid Interface

March 10, 2008

ATLA, Issue 36, pp. 285-298, 2008

Silvia Diabaté, Sonja Mülhopt, Hanns-Rudolf Paur and Harald F. Krug

Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344, Eggenstein – Leopoldshafen, Germany


BEAS-2B cells were exposed to an aerosol, generated from fly ash. The cells were co-cultured with differentiated THP-1 macrophages growing on Transwell inserts. Analyses of cell viability and IL-8 release were performed.

Elevated concentrations of particulate matter in the environmental atmosphere constitute a potential risk to human health. In vitro cell-based assays are therefore necessary to evaluate the toxicological potential of inhaled particulate emissions. In this study, the exposure of a co-culture cell model at the air-liquid interface was used to evaluate the dose-dependent biological effects of a test aerosol. The CULTEX system was used to expose human cells to an environmentally-relevant aerosol, generated from fly ash collected in a commercial municipal waste incinerator and resuspended in filtered air. Human bronchial epithelial cells, BEAS-2B, co-cultured with differentiated THP-1 macrophages growing on Transwell inserts, were employed in the bioassay. Analyses of cell viability, interleukin-8 (IL-8) release, intracellular glutathione, and haeme oxygenase-1 enzyme expression were performed. Transportation of the cells and exposure to humidified filtered air or the test aerosol, at 100 ml/min for 1 to 6 hours, were well tolerated by the cells and had no effect on their viability. Levels of IL-8 release and haeme oxygenase-1 expression were elevated by exposure to fly ash aerosol as a function of time, but not by exposure to clean air. For IL-8 release, a dose-dependent effect was demonstrated with the assumption that the deposited mass of the particles correlated with exposure time. Exposure to the test aerosol did not affect the intracellular glutathione concentration. This in vitro approach simulates particle deposition in the human lung more realistically than does submerged exposure, and it preserves the inherent properties of the particles. It shows promise for use to detect particulate emissions which are potentially detrimental to human health.

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