Responses of lung cells to realistic exposure of primary and aged carbonaceous aerosols

Lisa Künzi, Peter Mertes, Sarah Schneider, Natalie Jeannet, Carmela Menzi, Josef Dommen, Urs Baltensperger, André S.H. Prévôt, Matthias Salathe, Markus Kalberer, Marianne Geiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Diesel exhaust and wood burning are important sources of ambient atmospheric particles due to increasing numbers of diesel cars and the importance of wood as a source of renewable energy. Inhalation is the predominant route of entry and uptake for fine and ultrafine particles into the body. Health effects of atmospheric particles are still not completely understood. There is consistent evidence from epidemiology that particle exposure contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.This study aimed at examining acute responses of airway epithelial cells and luminal macrophages after exposure to freshly emitted and photochemically aged carbonaceous aerosols under realistic atmospheric conditions. In addition to a bronchial epithelial cell line advanced cell cultures namely fully differentiated respiratory epithelia and primary surface macrophages were used.Our results demonstrate that a single exposure of the cells to realistic particle doses of 0.3-3 ng diesel or 3-9 ng wood aerosol per cm2 cell surface induces small, particle-specific responses. The release of interleukin-6 and -8 was found to be decreased in differentiated airway epithelia but not in the other cell models studied. Aerosol exposure decreased macrophage phagocytic activity by 45-90%. Cell and tissue integrity remained unaffected. Overall, primary and aged particles from the same combustion induced similar responses in the cell models tested, whereby particles from diesel exhaust affected the cells more than those from wood combustion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Combustion-derived particles
  • Epithelial cells
  • Lungs
  • Macrophages
  • Primary aerosol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Environmental Science(all)


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