Suspended particulate matter in indoor air: adjuvants and allergen carriers

Toxicology. 2000 Nov 2;152(1-3):53-68. doi: 10.1016/s0300-483x(00)00292-4.


The overall purpose of this study was to investigate how airborne house dust particles may contribute to an allergic immune response, and thereby also to asthma and other respiratory symptoms. The following aims were set: first, to quantify and characterize indoor suspended particulate matter (SPM) with regard to amount, as well as elemental and size distribution, second, to identify possible mechanisms by which SPM may affect the allergic immune response. A vast majority of the particles in SPM samples from homes in Oslo were found to be less than 2.5 microm in diameter. This PM(2.5) fraction contained, in addition to a large amount of sulfur aerosols and silicates, a lot of soot particles. Most of these were less than 1 microm in diameter. Using an immunogold labeling technique, we found that these soot particles carried cat, dog and birch allergens on their surface. These results show that indoor SPM contains a lot of potential allergen carriers, i.e. soot particles (carbon aggregates), most of them less that 1 microm in diameter and therefore able to transport allergens deep into the respiratory tree. We further found that diesel exhaust particles (DEP), which is likely the main soot component of SPM, adsorbed several well-known allergens in vitro. Furthermore, SPM was found to elicit a local lymph node inflammatory response, and to have an adjuvant activity on the production of IgE antibodies to ovalbumin (OA).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Dust
  • Female
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / immunology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Allergens
  • Dust
  • Ovalbumin