Pulmonary responses of acute exposure to ultrafine iron particles in healthy adult rats

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


As critical constituents of ambient particulate matter, transition metals such as iron may play an important role in health outcomes associated with air pollution. The purpose of this study was to determine the respiratory effects of inhaled ultrafine iron particles in rats. Sprague Dawley rats 10-12 weeks of age were exposed by inhalation to iron particles (57 and 90 μg/m3, respectively) or filtered air (FA) for 6 h/day for 3 days. The median diameter of particles generated was 72 nm. Exposure to iron particles at a concentration of 90 μg/m3 resulted in a significant decrease in total antioxidant power along with a significant induction in ferritin expression, GST activity, and IL-1 β levels in lungs compared with lungs of the FA control or of animals exposed to iron particles at 57 μg/m3 . NFΚB-DNA binding activity was elevated 1.3-fold compared with that of control animals following exposure to 90 μg/m3 of iron, but this change was not statistically significant. We concluded that inhalation of iron particles leads to oxidative stress associated with a proinflammatory response in a dose-dependent manner. The activation of NFΚB may be involved in iron-induced respiratory responses, but further studies are merited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-235
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003


  • Ferritin
  • IL-1β
  • Inhalation
  • Iron particles
  • NFκB
  • Oxidative stress
  • Pulmonary responses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pollution


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