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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 685142, 13 pages
Review Article

Inflammation-Related Effects of Diesel Engine Exhaust Particles: Studies on Lung Cells In Vitro

Division of Environmental Medicine, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Lovisenberggaten 8, 0403 Oslo, Norway

Received 10 October 2012; Revised 4 January 2013; Accepted 15 January 2013

Academic Editor: Tim Nawrot

Copyright © 2013 P. E. Schwarze et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Diesel exhaust and its particles (DEP) have been under scrutiny for health effects in humans. In the development of these effects inflammation is regarded as a key process. Overall, in vitro studies report similar DEP-induced changes in markers of inflammation, including cytokines and chemokines, as studies in vivo. In vitro studies suggest that soluble extracts of DEP have the greatest impact on the expression and release of proinflammatory markers. Main DEP mediators of effects have still not been identified and are difficult to find, as fuel and engine technology developments lead to continuously altered characteristics of emissions. Involved mechanisms remain somewhat unclear. DEP extracts appear to comprise components that are able to activate various membrane and cytosolic receptors. Through interactions with receptors, ion channels, and phosphorylation enzymes, molecules in the particle extract will trigger various cell signaling pathways that may lead to the release of inflammatory markers directly or indirectly by causing cell death. In vitro studies represent a fast and convenient system which may have implications for technology development. Furthermore, knowledge regarding how particles elicit their effects may contribute to understanding of DEP-induced health effects in vivo, with possible implications for identifying susceptible groups of people and effect biomarkers.