Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 1742–1751 | Cite as

Fine chalk dust induces inflammatory response via p38 and ERK MAPK pathway in rat lung

  • Yuexia Zhang
  • Zhenhua Yang
  • Yunzhu Chen
  • Ruijin Li
  • Hong Geng
  • Wenjuan Dong
  • Zongwei CaiEmail author
  • Chuan DongEmail author
Research Article


Chalk teaching is widely used in the world due to low cost, especially in some developing countries. During teaching with chalks, a large amount of fine chalk dust is produced. Although exposure to chalk dust is associated with respiratory diseases, the mechanism underlying the correlation between chalk dust exposure and adverse effects has not fully been elucidated. In this study, inflammation and its signal pathway in rat lungs exposed to fine chalk dust were examined through histopathology analyses; pro-inflammatory gene transcription; and protein levels measured by HE staining, RT-PCR, and western blot analysis. The results demonstrated that fine chalk dust increased neutrophils and up-regulated inflammatory gene mRNA levels (TNF-α, IL-6, TGF-β1, iNOS, and ICAM-1), and oxidative stress marker (HO-1) level, leading to the increase of inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory injury on the lungs. These inflammation responses were mediated, at least in part, via p38 and extracellular regulated proteinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling mechanisms. In contrast, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) supplement significantly ameliorated these changes in inflammatory responses. Our results support the hypothesis that fine chalk dust can damage rat lungs and the NAC supplement may attenuate fine chalk dust-associated lung inflammation.


Fine chalk dust Inflammation Lung Pathway 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21575084 and 21405099), the key Program of National Natural Science of China (No.91543202), Nature Science Foundation of Shanxi Province in China (No. 201601D202087), and Foundation of Educational Committee of Shanxi Province in China (No. 2014110).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuexia Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhenhua Yang
    • 1
  • Yunzhu Chen
    • 1
  • Ruijin Li
    • 1
  • Hong Geng
    • 1
  • Wenjuan Dong
    • 1
  • Zongwei Cai
    • 2
    Email author
  • Chuan Dong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental ScienceShanxi UniversityTaiyuanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Environmental and Biological Analysis, Department of ChemistryHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongChina

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