In vitro and in vivo activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases by coal dusts and quartz silica

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2002 Oct 1;184(1):37-45.


Alveolar type II epithelial cells are the main precursor cells that develop into carcinomas after inhalation of poorly soluble particles (PSP) at overload concentrations, but the mechanisms leading to initial proliferative events in these cells are unclear. In studies here, cell cycle kinetics, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling events, and gene expression of activator protein-1 family members were investigated in murine alveolar type II epithelial cells (C10) or rats in vivo after exposure to several coal mine dusts (CMDs) of high or low quartz content. In contrast to results using unexposed C10 cells or cells exposed to the nonpathogenic particle glass beads, flow cytometry showed increased numbers of hypodiploid cells and cells in S phase after addition of DQ12 quartz or CMDs. Using a ribonuclease protection assay, increased mRNA levels of fos and jun family members were seen in response to DQ12 quartz and CMD with high quartz content. Increased phosphorylation of extracellular signal regulated kinases (ERKs)1/2 occurred in DQ12- and CMD-exposed cells by Western blot analysis. The use of the hydroxyl radical scavenger tetramethylthiourea blocked S-phase entry by DQ12 and CMDs as well as the phosphorylation of ERKs. Immunohistochemistry on lung sections of CMD-exposed rats showed chronic activation of phosphorylated ERKs in epithelial cells, supporting the possible role of this signal cascade in proliferation of pulmonary epithelium by PSP in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Coal / toxicity*
  • Coal Mining
  • Dust*
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Genes, fos / genetics
  • Genes, jun / genetics
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / enzymology
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Particle Size
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Quartz / chemistry
  • Quartz / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry
  • Silicon Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Coal
  • Dust
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Quartz
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases