, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 23-38
Date: 08 Nov 2006

Phospholipid lung surfactant and nanoparticle surface toxicity: Lessons from diesel soots and silicate dusts

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Because of their small size, the specific surface areas of nanoparticulate materials (NP), described as particles having at least one dimension smaller than 100 nm, can be large compared with micrometer-sized respirable particles. This high specific surface area or nanostructural surface properties may affect NP toxicity in comparison with micrometer-sized respirable particles of the same overall composition. Respirable particles depositing on the deep lung surfaces of the respiratory bronchioles or alveoli will contact pulmonary surfactants in the surface hypophase. Diesel exhaust ultrafine particles and respirable silicate micrometer-sized insoluble particles can adsorb components of that surfactant onto the particle surfaces, conditioning the particles surfaces and affecting their in vitro expression of cytotoxicity or genotoxicity. Those effects can be particle surface composition-specific. Effects of particle surface conditioning by a primary component of phospholipid pulmonary surfactant, diacyl phosphatidyl choline, are reviewed for in vitro expression of genotoxicity by diesel exhaust particles and of cytotoxicity by respirable quartz and aluminosilicate kaolin clay particles. Those effects suggest methods and cautions for assaying and interpreting NP properties and biological activities.