Inhalation toxicology

Pulmonary effects of ultrafine and fine ammonium salts aerosols in healthy and monocrotaline-treated rats following short-term exposure.

PMID 12454787


In the present study the effects of a 3-day inhalation exposure to model compounds for ambient particulate matter were investigated: ammonium bisulfate, ammonium ferrosulfate, and ammonium nitrate, all components of the secondary aerosol fraction of ambient particulate matter (PM), and carbon black (CB, model aerosol for primary PM). The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that secondary model aerosols exert acute pulmonary adverse effects in rats, and that rats with pulmonary hypertension (PH), induced by monocrotaline (MCT), are more sensitive to these components than normal healthy animals. An additional aim was to test the hypothesis that fine particles exert more effects than ultrafines. Healthy and PH rats were exposed to ultrafine (mass median diameter [MMD] approximate, equals 0.07-0.10 microm; 4 x 10(5) particles/cm(3)) and fine (MMD approximate, equals 0.57-0.64 micro;m; 9 x 10(3) particles/cm(3)) ammonium aerosols during 4 h/day for 3 consecutive days. The mean mass concentrations ranged from 70 to 420 microg/m(3), respectively, for ultrafine ammonium bisulfate, nitrate, and ferrosulfate and from 275 to 410 microg/m(3) for fine-mode aerosols. In an additional experiment, simultaneous exposure to a fine CB aerosol (0.6 microm; 2-9 mg/m(3)) and ammonium nitrate (0.4-18 mg/m(3)) was performed. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) analysis and histopathological examination were performed on animals sacrificed 1 day after the last exposure. Histopathology of the lungs did not reveal test atmosphere-related abnormalities in either healthy or PH rats exposed to the ammonium salts, or to a combination of CB + nitrate. Alveolar macrophages in rats exposed to CB only revealed the presence of black material in their cytoplasm. There were no signs of cytotoxicity due to the aerosol exposures (as measured with lactate dehydrogenase [LDH], protein, and albumin contents in BALF). Macrophages were not activated after MCT treatment or the test atmospheres, since no changes were observed in N-acetyl glucosaminidase (NAG). Cell differentiation profiles were inconsistent, partly caused by an already present infection with Haemophilus sp. However, we believe that the test atmospheres did not affect cell differentiation or total cell counts. The results show that at exposure levels of ammonium salts at least one order of magnitude higher than ambient levels, marked adverse health effects were absent in both healthy and PH rats.