Background Particulate matter (PM) has been associated with increased pulmonary and cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Additionally, PM is known to exacerbate asthma. However, whether ambient PM exposure contributes to the onset of asthma, especially in non-atopic children and adults, is less conclusive. The current study aimed to evaluate the effects of size-fractioned PM on lung immune responses in healthy BALB/c mice. Methods and principal findings We collected PM10, PM2.5, PM1 and PM0.1 samples from October 2012 to August 2013 in the Taipei Basin. These PM samples were representative of urban traffic pollution. The samples were extracted and sonicated in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Female BALB/c mice were exposed to the samples via intratracheal instillation at three different doses: 1.75 mg/kg (35 μg/per mouse), 5 mg/kg (100 μg/per mouse), and 12.5 mg/kg (250 μg/per mouse). The mice were exposed on days 0 and 7, and PBS alone was used as a control. Following the exposures, the expression profiles of inflammatory cells and cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were assessed. Exposure to PM10 resulted in inflammatory responses, including the recruitment of neutrophils and the induction of T helper 1 (Th1) cell-related cytokine release, such as TNF-α and IFN-γ. Furthermore, an allergic immune response, including the recruitment of eosinophils and the up-regulation of T helper 2 (Th2) cell-related cytokine release, such as IL-5 and IL-13, was also observed in the BALF of mice exposed to PM10. Conclusions Our study showed that exposure to PM alone caused mixed Th1/Th2 inflammatory responses in healthy mice. These findings support the hypothesis that PM may contribute to the onset of asthma.
Huang, K. L., Liu, S. Y., Chou, C. C. K., Lee, Y. H., & Cheng, T. J. (2017). The effect of size-segregated ambient particulate matter on Th1/Th2-like immune responses in mice. PLoS ONE, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0173158