Motorcycle Exhaust Particles Induce Airway Inflammation and Airway Hyperresponsiveness in BALB/C Mice

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Abstract

A number of large studies have reported that environmental pollutants from fossil fuel combustion can cause deleterious effects to the immune system, resulting in an allergic reaction leading to respiratory tract damage. In this study, we investigated the effect of motorcycle exhaust particles (MEP), a major pollutant in the Taiwan urban area, on airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in laboratory animals. BALB/c mice were instilled intratracheally (i.t.) with 1.2 mg/kg and 12 mg/kg of MEP, which was collected from two-stroke motorcycle engines. The mice were exposed 3 times i.t. with MEP, and various parameters for airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness were sequentially analyzed. We found that MEP would induce airway and pulmonary inflammation characterized by infiltration of eosinophils, neutrophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and inflammatory cell infiltration in lung. In addition, MEP treatment enhanced BALF interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-5, and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) cytokine levels and serum IgE production. Bronchial response measured by unrestrained plethysmography with methacholine challenge showed that MEP treatment induced airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in BALB/c mice. The chemical components in MEP were further fractionated with organic solvents, and we found that the benzene-extracted fraction exerts a similar biological effect as seen with MEP, including airway inflammation, increased BALF IL-4, serum IgE production, and induction of AHR. In conclusion, we present evidence showing that the filter-trapped particles emitted from the unleaded-gasoline-fueled two-stroke motorcycle engine may induce proinflammatory and proallergic response profiles in the absence of exposure to allergen.

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