Differential response of human nasal and bronchial epithelial cells upon exposure to size-fractionated dairy dust

Brie Hawley, Joshua Schaeffer, Jill A. Poole, Gregory P. Dooley, Stephen Reynolds, John Volckens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Exposure to organic dusts is associated with increased respiratory morbidity and mortality in agricultural workers. Organic dusts in dairy farm environments are complex, polydisperse mixtures of toxic and immunogenic compounds. Previous toxicological studies focused primarily on exposures to the respirable size fraction; however, organic dusts in dairy farm environments are known to contain larger particles. Given the size distribution of dusts from dairy farm environments, the nasal and bronchial epithelia represent targets of agricultural dust exposures. In this study, well-differentiated normal human bronchial epithelial cells and human nasal epithelial cells were exposed to two different size fractions (PM10 and PM>10) of dairy parlor dust using a novel aerosol-to-cell exposure system. Levels of proinflammatory transcripts (interleukin [IL]-8, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α) were measured 2 h after exposure. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release was also measured as an indicator of cytotoxicity. Cell exposure to dust was measured in each size fraction as a function of mass, endotoxin, and muramic acid levels. To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the effects of distinct size fractions of agricultural dust on human airway epithelial cells. Our results suggest that both PM10 and PM>10 size fractions elicit a proinflammatory response in airway epithelial cells and that the entire inhalable size fraction needs to be considered when assessing potential risks from exposure to agricultural dusts. Further, data suggest that human bronchial cells respond differently to these dusts than human nasal cells, and therefore that the two cell types need to be considered separately in airway cell models of agricultural dust toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-594
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A: Current Issues
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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