Immunotoxicity of sulfuric acid aerosol: effects on pulmonary macrophage effector and functional activities critical for maintaining host resistance against infectious diseases

J T ZelikoffR B Schlesinger


Despite the widespread occurrence of acidic sulfur oxides in the ambient environment and their potential risks to human health, effects associated with pulmonary immune defenses have been poorly studied. The current in vivo study was designed to provide some insight into this relatively unexplored area by investigating the impact of inhaled sulfuric acid on immune defense mechanisms critical for maintaining pulmonary resistance against infectious diseases. Results of this study demonstrate that repeated inhalation of sulfuric acid reduces the uptake and intracellular killing of pathogenic bacteria by exposed pulmonary macrophages, and depresses the activity/production of important biological modifiers critical for maintaining pulmonary immunocompetence. These findings have important implications for human health, and may contribute to a better understanding of the possible mechanism(s) underlying the epidemiological evidence which suggests an association between total sulfates in the ambient air and increased incidence of acute bronchitis and lower respiratory illness in school-age children.


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