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Effects of pollutant atmospheres on surface receptors of pulmonary macrophages


The effects of two multicomponent pollutant atmospheres on the surface receptors (FcR) and phagocytic activity of rat pulmonary alveolar macrophages have been studied. FcR are crucial for the macrophages to become cytotoxic against target cells. The atmospheres were composed of pollutants that are prevalent in the South Coast Air Basin of southern California. Rats were exposed nose-only to a 7-component oxidant-and sulfate-containing atmosphere for 4 h/d for either 7 or 21 consecutive days. In another experiment rats were exposed 5 h/d for 5 consecutive days to another pollutant combination--acid droplets plus carbon-containing dilute diesel engine exhaust. In both experiments matched rats were exposed nose-only to purified air to be used as controls. Each of the atmospheres studied significantly reduced FcR activity for at least 3 d following the exposure, with the group of rats exposed to the 7-component atmosphere for 21 d exhibiting the most pronounced effect. Macrophages from rats exposed to the diesel exhaust plus acid atmosphere and the 7-component atmosphere for 7 d had significantly reduced phagocytic activity for at least 3 d postexposure, while the macrophages from rats exposed to the latter atmosphere for 21 d had phagocytic activity near control values. The decrease in phagocytosis and inhibition of FcR of macrophages suggests an impairment of macrophage function that probably renders the host vulnerable to bacterial and/or viral infections.

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