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Volume 11 (2011), Pages 382-390
Review Article

Aggravating Impact of Nanoparticles on Immune-Mediated Pulmonary Inflammation

1Department of Public Health and Molecular Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Kitasato University, Tokyo, Japan
2Environmental Health Sciences Division, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan

Received 9 November 2010; Revised 13 January 2011; Accepted 18 January 2011

Academic Editor: Denis Girard

Copyright © 2011 Ken-Ichiro Inoue and Hirohisa Takano.


Although the adverse health effects of nanoparticles have been proposed and are being clarified, their aggravating effects on pre-existing pathological conditions have not been fully investigated. In this review, we provide insights into the immunotoxicity of both airborne and engineered nanoparticles as an exacerbating factor on hypersusceptible subjects, especially those with immune-mediated pulmonary inflammation, using our in vivo experimental model. First, we exhibit the effects of nanoparticles on pulmonary inflammation induced by bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide: LPS) as a disease model in innate immunity, and demonstrate that nanoparticles instilled through both an intratracheal tube and an inhalation system can exacerbate the lung inflammation. Second, we introduce the effects of nanoparticles on allergic pulmonary inflammation as a disease model in adaptive immunity, and show that repetitive pulmonary exposure to nanoparticles has aggravating effects on allergic inflammation, including adjuvant effects on Th2-milieu. Third, we show that very small nanoparticle exposure exacerbates emphysematous pulmonary inflammation, which is concomitant with enhanced lung expression of proinflammatory molecules (including those that are innate immunity related). Taken together, nanoparticle exposure may synergistically facilitate pathological pulmonary inflammation via both innate and adaptive immunological impairment.