• airway inflammation;
  • particulate matter;
  • NC/Nga mouse

To evaluate the allergic effect of airborne particulate matter (PM) on the airway, separated soluble supernatant (Sup) and insoluble precipitate (Pre) in suspended PM were inoculated into NC/Nga mice with a high sensitivity for mite allergens. Sup, Pre, or both Sup and Pre with or without pronase treatment were inoculated via the nasal route five times for sensitization and a challenge inoculation on the 11th day in NC/Nga mice. On the 14th day, mice were examined for airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cell count, mRNA expression of Th1 and Th2 cytokines in the lung tissue, and histopathology. Synergistic effects of Sup and Pre were observed as increases in AHR and a histopathological change of Periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining. Increases in neutrophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes of BALF cells were dependent on Pre. The expression of IL-4 mRNA was increased by Sup, and those of IL-5 mRNA and Il-13 mRNA was increased by Sup and Pre. Augmented AHR, mRNA expression of IL-4, peribronchial inflammation, and PAS staining by Sup plus Pre were attenuated by treatment of Sup with pronase to digest proteins. These results suggest that some proteins of ambient PM may be important environmental factors for AHR and airway inflammation with the aid of insoluble particulates, although some soluble factors such as endotoxins cannot be ruled out. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 642–654, 2014.