Oxidative stress and NFκB activation in the lungs of rats: A synergistic interaction between soot and iron particles

Ya Mei Zhou, Cai Yun Zhong, Ian M. Kennedy, Valerie J. Leppert, Kent E Pinkerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Particulate matter (PM) has been associated with a variety of adverse health effects primarily involving the cardiopulmonary system. However, the precise biological mechanisms to explain how exposure to PM exacerbates or directly causes adverse effects are unknown. Particles of varying composition may play a critical role in these effects. To study such a phenomenon, a simple, laminar diffusion flame was used to generate aerosols of soot and iron particles in the ultrafine size range. Exposures of healthy adult rats were for 6 h/day for 3 days. Conditions used included exposure to soot only, iron only, or a combination of soot and iron. We found animals exposed to soot particles at 250 μg/m3 had no adverse respiratory effects. Exposure to iron alone at a concentration of 57 μg/m3 also had no respiratory effects. However, the addition of 45 μg/m3 of iron to soot with a combined total mass concentration of 250 μg/m3 demonstrated significant pulmonary ferritin induction, oxidative stress, elevation of IL-1β, and cytochrome P450s, as well as activation of NFκB. These findings suggest that a synergistic interaction between soot and iron particles account for biological responses not found with exposure to iron alone or to soot alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-169
Number of pages13
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2003


  • Ferritin
  • Interaction
  • Iron
  • NFκB
  • Oxidative stress
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Soot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology


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