, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 65-78
Date: 15 Oct 2010

Nanomaterial interactions with and trafficking across the lung alveolar epithelial barrier: implications for health effects of air-pollution particles

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Studies on the health effects of air-pollution particles suggest that injury may result from inhalation of airborne ultrafine particles (<100 nm in diameter). Engineered nanomaterials (<100 nm in at least one dimension) may also be harmful if inhaled. Nanomaterials deposited on the respiratory epithelial tract are thought to cross the air-blood barrier, especially via the expansive alveolar region, into the systemic circulation to reach end organs (e.g., myocardium, liver, pancreas, kidney, and spleen). Since ambient ultrafine particles are difficult to track, studies of defined engineered nanomaterials have been used to obtain valuable information on how nanomaterials interact with and traffic across the air-blood barrier of mammalian lungs. Since specific mechanistic information on how nanomaterials interact with the lung is difficult to obtain using in vivo or ex vivo lungs due to their complex anatomy, in vitro alveolar epithelial models have been of considerable value in determining nanomaterial-lung interactions. In this review, we provide information on mechanisms underlying lung alveolar epithelial injury caused by various nanomaterials and on nanomaterial trafficking across alveolar epithelium that may lead to end-organ injury.