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Human pulmonary responses to experimental inhalation of high concentration fine and ultrafine magnesium oxide particles.


Exposure to air polluted with particles less than 2.5 micron in size is associated epidemiologically with adverse cardiopulmonary health consequences in humans. The goal of this study was to characterize human pulmonary responses to controlled experimental high-dose exposure to fine and ultrafine magnesium oxide particles. We quantified bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cell and cytokine concentrations, pulmonary function, and peripheral blood neutrophil concentrations in six healthy volunteers 18 to 20 hr after inhalation of fine and ultrafine magnesium oxide particles produced from a furnace system model. We compared postexposure studies with control studies from the same six subjects. Mean +/- standard deviation (SD) cumulative magnesium dose was 4,138 +/- 2,163 min x mg/m3. By weight, 28% of fume particles were ultrafine (<0.1 micron in diameter) and over 98% of fume particles were fine (<2.5 micron in diameter). There were no significant differences in BAL inflammatory cell concentrations, BAL interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor, pulmonary function, or peripheral blood neutrophil concentrations postexposure compared with control. Our findings suggest that high-dose fine and ultrafine magnesium oxide particle exposure does not produce a measurable pulmonary inflammatory response. These findings are in marked contrast with the well-described pulmonary inflammatory response following zinc oxide particle inhalation. We conclude that fine and ultrafine particle inhalation does not result in toxicity in a generic manner independent of particle composition. Our findings support the concept that particle chemical composition, in addition to particle size, is an important determinant of respiratory effects.

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