Ambient ultrafine particles activate human monocytes: Effect of dose, differentiation state and age of donors

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Exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) has been linked to adverse pulmonary and cardiovascular health effects. Activation of both inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways has been observed and may be a probable cause of these outcomes. We tested the hypothesis that in human monocytes, PM-induced oxidative and inflammatory responses are interrelated. A human monocytic cell line (THP-1) was used to determine if dose and differentiation state plays a role in the cellular response after a 24hr exposure to particles. Primary human monocytes derived from eight female, non-smoker donors (aged: 21, 24, 27, 28, 48, 49, 54 & 60yo) were used to determine if the age of donors modulates the response. Cells were treated with aqueous suspensions of ambient ultrafine particles (UFP, defined as smaller than 0.2 μm in size) or a media control for 24hr. After exposure, reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation was increased irrespective of dose or differentiation state of THP-1 cells. In the primary human monocytes, ROS formation was not significantly changed. The release of the proinflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), was dose-dependent and greatest in differentiated compared to undifferentiated THP-1 cells exposed to UFP. In the Primary human monocytes, TNF-α secretion was increased irrespective of the age of the donor. Our results suggest that after a 24hr exposure to particles, general reactive oxygen species formation was nonspecific and uncorrelated to cytokine secretion which was consistently enhanced. Cytokines play an important role in orchestrating many immune responses and thus the ability of ambient particles to enhance robust secretion of a proinflammatory cytokine from primary human monocytes, and how this may influence the response to pathogens and alter disease states, needs to be further evaluated.HIGHLIGHTSUFP causes TNF-α secretion independently of ROS formation.Differentiated THP-1 cells are more responsive to UFP exposure.Age of donor does not contribute to the proinflammatory effect of UFP.

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