Removal of organic content from diesel exhaust particles alters cellular responses of primary human bronchial epithelial cells cultured at an air-liquid interface

Vaughan, Annalicia, Stevanovic, Svetlana, Morrison, Leanne E., Pourkhesalian, Ali M., Rahman, M. Mustafiz, Zare, Ali, Miljevic, Branka, Goh, Felicia, Relan, Vandana, Bowman, Rayleen, Fong, Kwun M., Bottle, Steven, Ristovski, Zoran, & Yang, Ian A. (2015) Removal of organic content from diesel exhaust particles alters cellular responses of primary human bronchial epithelial cells cultured at an air-liquid interface. Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology, 5(5), pp. 100316-1.

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Exposure to air pollutants, including diesel particulate matter, has been linked to adverse respiratory health effects. Inhaled diesel particulate matter contains adsorbed organic compounds. It is not clear whether the adsorbed organics or the residual components are more deleterious to airway cells. Using a physiologically relevant model, we investigated the role of diesel organic content on mediating cellular responses of primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) cultured at an air-liquid interface (ALI).


Primary HBECs were cultured and differentiated at ALI for at least 28 days. To determine which component is most harmful, we compared primary HBEC responses elicited by residual (with organics removed) diesel emissions (DE) to those elicited by neat (unmodified) DE for 30 and 60 minutes at ALI, with cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) as the positive control, and filtered air as negative control. Cell viability (WST-1 cell proliferation assay), inflammation (TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-8 ELISA) and changes in gene expression (qRT-PCR for HO-1, CYP1A1, TNF-α and IL-8 mRNA) were measured.


Immunofluorescence and cytological staining confirmed the mucociliary phenotype of primary HBECs differentiated at ALI. Neat DE caused a comparable reduction in cell viability at 30 or 60 min exposures, whereas residual DE caused a greater reduction at 60 min. When corrected for cell viability, cytokine protein secretion for TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-8 were maximal with residual DE at 60 min. mRNA expression for HO-1, CYP1A1, TNF-α and IL-8 was not significantly different between exposures.


This study provides new insights into epithelial cell responses to diesel emissions using a physiologically relevant aerosol exposure model. Both the organic content and residual components of diesel emissions play an important role in determining bronchial epithelial cell response in vitro. Future studies should be directed at testing potentially useful interventions against the adverse health effects of air pollution exposure.

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ID Code: 89312
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: diesel emissions, diesel organic content, bronchial epithelial cells, air-liquid interface, inflammation
DOI: 10.4172/2161-0525.1000316
ISSN: 2161-0525
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Vaughan A, et al.
Copyright Statement: This is an open-access article distributed
under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original author and source are credited.
Deposited On: 20 Oct 2015 23:43
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2015 06:07

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