Cytotoxic effect of vehicular PM metals Fe3+ & Zn2+ on lung epithelia

Carly Woods, Gary Litherland, Andrew Hursthouse, Fionnuala Lundy, Gerard Sergeant, John Lockhart, Iain Mclellan

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease prevalence and exacerbations are associated with elevated levels of air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM). The study of metal components gives an indication of health effects encompassing whole PM exposure. Effect of metal components on the respiratory system is in early stages of investigation. This research focuses on common PM metals (zinc & iron) which originate from a common pollutant source (vehicular emissions1) and their action on lung epithelial cell lines; A549 & BEAS-2B. Absolute metal concentration of analytical grade metal salts (FeCl3 & ZnCl2) were applied to A549 and BEAS-2B. After 24 h exposure, cytotoxicity was assessed using MTT metabolic assay and Interleukin (IL-6) production was determined using ELISA. Zinc displayed a greater epithelial cytotoxicity potential than iron (IC50 ~10 µg/ml cf. >100 µg/ml) on A549 & BEAS-2B (Fig. 1), conversely, iron stimulation demonstrated greater IL-6 production than zinc. Cell culture studies are currently ongoing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1973
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue numberSupplement 64
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2020


  • COPD
  • air pollution
  • inflammation


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