Molecular & Cellular Toxicology

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 163–172 | Cite as

A study of cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of particulate matter (PM2.5) in human lung epithelial cells (A549)

  • Woong Kim
  • Seung-Chan Jeong
  • Chan-young Shin
  • Mi-Kyung Song
  • Yoon Cho
  • Jung-hee Lim
  • Myung Chan Gye
  • Jae-Chun Ryu
Original Paper



Exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM2.5), a PM with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 μm, is known to be associated with a variety of adverse health effects, particularly related to the respiratory system. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in fine PM toxicity are still not well-characterized. In this study, we estimate pulmonary toxic mechanism using two types (water soluble extract, WPM2.5, and organic soluble extract, O-PM2.5) of PM2.5 on human lung epithelial cells (A549).


Samples were collected using a high-volume air sampler. Each sample was divided into two groups by its own types (water soluble extract, W-PM2.5, and organic soluble extract, O-PM2.5). In the present study, two types of PM2.5-induced cytotoxic and genotoxic effects and expression of toxicity-related genes were evaluated using human lung epithelial cells (A549). Also, the production of intracellular reactive oxygen species was measured to investigate the mechanism of cell death induced by PM2.5


Both W-PM2.5 and O-PM2.5 exposures significantly reduced the viability of A549 cells in a dosedependent manner, and expression of 17 cell deathrelated genes were significantly regulated in the PM2.5 exposure group. Exposure of PM2.5 significantly induced the production of ROS. Further, data obtained from the Comet assay indicated that two extracts of PM2.5 caused DNA damage in A549 cells in a dose-dependent manner.


Our study suggests that ROS-mediated DNA damage may play a major role in PM2.5-induced cell death. This finding represents the basis for further studies addressing the pathophysiological mechanisms of PM2.5 exposure.


Particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5DNA damage Gene expression profiling ROS 


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Copyright information

© The Korean Society of Toxicogenomics and Toxicoproteomics and Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Woong Kim
    • 1
    • 3
  • Seung-Chan Jeong
    • 1
  • Chan-young Shin
    • 1
  • Mi-Kyung Song
    • 4
  • Yoon Cho
    • 1
  • Jung-hee Lim
    • 1
  • Myung Chan Gye
    • 3
  • Jae-Chun Ryu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Cellular and Molecular Toxicology LaboratoryKorea Institute of Science & TechnologyCheongryang, SeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicolog, Human and Environmental ToxicologyKorea University of Science and TechnologyDaejeonRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Life Science, College of Natural SciencesHangyang UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.National Center for Efficacy Evaluation for Respiratory Disease Product, Jeonbuk Department of Inhalation ResearchKorea Institute of ToxicologyJeongeup, Jeollabuk-doRepublic of Korea

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