air pollution

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A Method for the In Vitro Exposure of Human Cells to Environmental and Complex Gaseous Mixtures: Application to Various Types of Atmosphere

Michaela Aufderheide, Jan W. Knebel and Detlef Ritter

The application of in vitro methods to the analysis of the effects of airborne materials is still limited, because there are no generally accepted concepts and technologies for efficiently exposing adherent growing cells to test atmospheres, especially those comprising complex mixtures of gaseous and particulate phases. The introduction of in vitro research into the field of inhalation toxicology offers a unique possibility for using human cells and tissues for pre-screening studies, thus reducing the necessity for animal experiments, and cutting the numbers of animals used in toxicological testing. We therefore developed a novel experimental concept that uses an exposure device based on the cell cultivation system CULTEX (Patent No. DE 198011763; PCT/EP99/00295). This allowed us to investigate environmental atmospheres, which were chemically and physically unmodified, in an in vitro system, by exposing the target cells directly at the air/liquid interface. The exposure device itself is small and flexible enough to be connected to a variety of aerosol-generating systems without the need for an incubator, as it fulfils all the requirements for maintaining cell viability over a defined period. The general applicability and the sensitivity of this in vitro approach for testing various generated atmospheres under the same cell-exposure conditions were demonstrated by studying dose-dependent cytotoxic effects in human lung epithelial cells exposed to air contaminated with single gases or complex mixtures, such as diesel exhaust fumes and side-stream cigarette smoke.
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Alternatives for Lung Research: Stuck Between a Rat and a Hard Place

Kelly A. BéruBé

The respiratory system acts as a portal into the human body for airborne materials, which may gain access via the administration of medicines or inadvertently during inhalation of ambient air (e.g. air pollution). The burden of lung disease has been continuously increasing, to the point where it now represents a major cause of human morbidity and mortality worldwide. In the UK, more people die from respiratory disease than from coronary heart disease or non-respiratory cancer. For this reason alone, gaining an understanding of mechanisms of human lung biology, especially in injury and repair events, is now a principal focus within the field of respiratory medicine. Animal models are routinely used to investigate such events in the lung, but they do not truly reproduce the responses that occur in humans. Scientists committed to the more robust Three Rs principles of animal experimentation (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement) have been developing viable alternatives, derived from human medical waste tissues from patient donors, to generate in vitro models that resemble the in vivo human lung environment. In the specific case of inhalation toxicology, human-oriented models are especially warranted, given the new REACH regulations for the handling of chemicals, the rising air pollution problems and the availability of pharmaceutically valuable drugs. Advances in tissue- engineering have made it feasible and cost-effective to construct human tissue equivalents of the respiratory epithelia. The conducting airways of the lower respiratory system are a critical zone to recapitulate for use in inhalation toxicology. Three-dimensional (3- D) tissue designs which make use of primary cells, provide more in vivo-like responses, based on the targeted interactions of multiple cell types supported on artificial scaffolds. These scaffolds emulate the native extracellular matrix, in which cells differentiate into a functional pulmonary tissue. When 3-D cell cultures are employed for testing aerosolised chemicals, drugs and xenobiotics, responses are captured that mirror the events in the in situ human lung and provide human endpoint data.
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Medical Waste Tissues — Breathing Life back into Respiratory Research

Kelly A. BéruBé

With the advent of biobanks to store human lung cells and tissues from patient donations and from the procurement of medical waste tissues, it is now possible to integrate (both spatially and temporally) cells into anatomically-correct and physiologically-functional tissues. Modern inhalation toxicology relies on human data on exposure and adverse effects, to determine the most appropriate risk assessments and mitigations for beneficial respiratory health. A point in case is the recapitulation of airway tissue, such as the bronchial epithelium, to investigate the impact of air pollution on human respiratory health. The bronchi are the first point of contact for inhaled substances that bypass defences in the upper respiratory tract. Animal models have been used to resolve such inhalation toxicology hazards. However, the access to medical waste tissues has enabled the Lung Particle Research Group to tissue-engineer the Micro-Lung™ and Metabo-Lung™ cell culture models, as alternatives to animals in basic research and in the safety testing of aerosolised consumer goods. The former model favours investigations focused on lung injury and repair mechanisms, and the latter model provides the element of metabolism, through the co-culturing of lung and liver (hepatocyte) cells. These innovations represent examples of the animal-free alternatives advocated by the 21st century toxicology paradigm, whereby human-derived cell/tissue data will lead to more accurate and more-reliable public health risk assessments and therapeutic mitigations (e.g. exposure to ambient air pollutants and adverse drug reactions) for lung disease.
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