Our current research interests are:

Activation of immunotoxicological mechanisms of adverse health effects induced by:

  • Source specific combustion emissions
  • Complex mixture of urban air particulate matter
  • Diverse population of the moldy house microbes and their toxins 

Protective role of environmental microbes:

  • Beneficial effects of environmental microbial exposure on the maturation of immune responses and development of asthma and allergies in early life.
 

Air-Liquid Cell Exposure

The cell exposure laboratory is equipped with two different air-liquid-interface exposure systems for particulate and gaseous emissions. We have an exposure system of our own design, where the deposition of the particles is optimized. The new system gives advantage especially when working with the exposures of the nanomaterials and combustion emissions where the particle size is <100nm. In the air-liquid-interface exposures, the sample aerosol is conditioned to provide as close to real-life situation as possible in the in vitro exposure conditions. Additionally, we have also a commercial Vitrocell ® -device.

In cell exposures, human epithelial cell lines are used either solely to form an epithelial barrier to cell culture inserts or as co-cultures with other cell lines, such as macrophages. The insert culturing allows also working with primary cultures of lung cells.

 

Animal Exposure

The animal exposure unit consists of modern inhalation exposure chamber, which allows highly controlled environment to study effects of combustion emissions in mice. The inhalation exposure system can be used both in PM and direct combustion emission studies, as well as observing effects of gas phase and controlled photochemical aging of emissions in mice. Animals are exposed to exactly the same aerosol than in air-liquid cell exposure system, which allows highly comparable results from both units.

In addition, animal exposure unit has a capability to examine effects of PM in mice by using conventional intratracheal aspiration methods, which is required in the study of individual causative components of PM mixture that are potentially harmful for health.

 

Toxicological Analyses

Inhalation toxicology laboratory measures a wide variety of toxicological endpoints that are relevant in the mechanisms of the air pollution related diseases. Inflammatory mediators are measured from various biological media, including cell culture medium, lavage fluids and serum. With multiplexing assays, up to 10 cytokines can be measured simultaneously from the same sample.

Different pathways of cytotoxicity are also measured with various methods. These measurements are mostly based on the use of fluorescent dyes in cell analyzer, flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy. The toxicological analyses are complemented with the measurements of genotoxicity and oxidative stress. Altogether, these mechanisms give indication of cardiorespiratory and cancer related pathways of air pollution related diseases.

 

Research and facilities

The Inhalation Toxicology Laboratory is equipped with approved and modern tools for research of toxicity and inflammation induced by particles, dusts and gases.

In vitro and ex vivo toxicological studies

Primary cell studies:

  • Ex vivo phenotyping of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) (flow cytometry)
  • Functional studies of PBMCs (flow cytometry and multiplexed ELISA assays)
  • Analysis of inflammatory markers in human serum, plasma, nasal lavage fluid and exhaled breath condensate.

Studies on human and murine respiratory cell lines:

  • Cell exposures to indoor and outdoor as well as to combustion generated air pollutants
  • Mechanisms of air pollution related diseases
  • Studies on inflammation, cell death, the phases of the cell cycle, genotoxicity and oxidative stress
  • State-of-the-art analysis of exposed cell cultures and culture mediums by flow cytometry, multiplexing assays and fluorescence microscopy
  • Co-cultures of epithelial cells and macrophages
  • Air-Liquid Interface exposure methods

In vivo toxicological studies

  • Exposure of mice to the emission particles and gases
  • Analyses of inflammatory markers and cytotoxicity from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and serum
  • Detection of pathological changes in lung tissue
  • Measurement of genotoxicity induced by combustion emissions
  • Assessment of chemical compositions of emissions behind the induced toxicological effects