The Danish National Research Center for the Working Environment (NFA) has a long history of studying the toxicity of inhaled chemicals and particles. In particular, the toxicity of impregnation spray products accidently inhaled by private consumers and workers alike, has spurred research into the mechanisms of acute inhalation toxicity. People that have inhaled toxic products experience acute inhalation symptoms and in collaboration with the Danish Poison control hotline, and researchers in Europe, we have gained access to products that we know are harmful to humans. By studying these, we have identified lung surfactant (LS) as the toxicological target.
LS is a vital component of the lungs. It regulates the surface tension in the alveolar region of the lungs to minimize the effort of breathing. If the function is impaired, the surface tension is not properly regulated and the alveoli start to collapse, causing acute inhalation toxicity.
Currently the potential acute lung toxicity of inhaled particles and chemicals are tested using animals. The procedure is costly, time consuming, and may involve severe suffering for the test animals. There is a need for alternative in vitro methods, and at NFA, we use a method that tests lung surfactant function during exposure to chemicals to screen for chemicals or products that can cause acute inhalation toxicity in an in vitro method. The method is fast and easy to perform, and can be used to screen new chemicals or mixtures for their inhalation toxicity potential, creating a safer chemical environment.
Jorid Birkelund Sørli, NFA firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication: Prediction of acute inhalation toxicity using in vitro lung surfactant inhibition