Pulmonary epithelial lining fluid (ELF) is the first substance to make contact with inhaled particulate matter (PM) and interacts chemically with PM components. The objective of this study was to determine the role of ELF in oxidative stress, DNA damage and the production of proinflammatory cytokines following physicochemical exposure to PM. Ultrafine carbon black (ufCB, 15nm; a model carbonaceous core), ferrous sulphate (FeSO4; a model transition metal) and a diesel exhaust particle (DEP) extract (a model organic compound) were used to examine the acellular oxidative potential of synthetic ELF and non-ELF systems. We compared the effects of exposure to ufCB, FeSO4 and DEP extract on human alveolar epithelial Type II (A549) cells to determine the levels of oxidative stress, DNA single-strand breaks and interleukin-8 (IL-8) production in ELF and non-ELF systems. The effects of ufCB and FeSO4 on the acellular oxidative potential, cellular oxidative stress and DNA single-strand breakage were mitigated significantly by the addition of ELF, whereas there was no decrease following treatment with the DEP extract. There was no significant effect on IL-8 production following exposure to samples that were suspended in ELF/non-ELF systems. The results of the present study indicate that ELF plays an important role in the initial defence against PM in the pulmonary environment. Experimental components, such as ufCB and FeSO4, induced the production of oxidative stress and led to DNA single-strand breaks, which were moderately prevented by the addition of ELF. These findings suggest that ELF plays a protective role against PM-driven oxidative stress and DNA damage.
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