Cytotoxicity and oxidative stress caused by chemicals adsorbed on particulate matter

Environ Toxicol. 2006 Oct;21(5):457-63. doi: 10.1002/tox.20207.


Air particulate matter (PM) and bound chemicals are potential mediators for adverse health effects. The cytotoxicity and changes in energy-providing processes caused by chemical compounds bound to PM of different size fractions were investigated in Tetrahymena pyriformis. The PM samplings were carried out using a high volume cascade impactor (6 size fractions between 10 microm and less than 0.49 microm) at three points of La Plata, Argentina: in an industrial area, a traffic-influenced urban area, and a control area. Extracts from respirable particles below 1 mum initiated the highest cytotoxic effects, demonstrating their higher risk. In contrast, an increase on oxygen consumption was observed especially in tests of extracts from particles less than 1 mum from urban and industrial areas. The increase on oxygen consumption could be caused by decoupling processes in the respiratory chain. Otherwise the ATP concentration was increased too, even though to a lower extent. The observed imbalance between oxygen consumption and ATP concentration in exposed T. pyriformis cells may be due to oxidative stress, caused by chemical compounds bound to the particles. Owing to the complexity of effects related to PM and their associated chemical compounds, various physiological parameters necessarily need to be investigated to obtain more information about their possible involvement in human relevant pathogenic processes. As shown here, effects on cell proliferation and on energy-providing processes are suitable indicators for the different impact of PM and adsorbed chemicals from various sampling locations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / biosynthesis
  • Adsorption / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Particulate Matter / chemistry*
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Tetrahymena pyriformis / drug effects*


  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Adenosine Triphosphate