Health effects due to endotoxin inhalation (review)

Arch Toxicol. 2008 Apr;82(4):203-10. doi: 10.1007/s00204-008-0290-1. Epub 2008 Mar 6.


Endotoxins are ubiquitous in the environment and represent important components of bioaerosols. High exposure occurs in rural environment and at several workplaces (e.g. waste collecting, textile industry etc.). Adverse effects on human health induced by inhalation of endotoxin are described in several studies. Up to now the endotoxin levels are mainly measured using the Limulus amoebocyte-lysate (LAL) assay. This assay is well established, but for a suitable characterization of bioaerosols more parameters are necessary. Additional information, e.g. concerning the pyrogenic activity of organic dust samples may be delivered by whole blood assay. Whereas on the one hand protection measures at workplaces are demanded to avoid lung function impairment due to endotoxin exposure, on the other hand a protective effect of exposure to microbial agents like endotoxins with regard to allergy development has been observed. On the cellular level toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and IL-1 receptor as well as surface molecules like CD14 have been shown to play a pivotal role in the endotoxin activation cascade. In this review we summarize the mechanism of endotoxin recognition and its manifold effects on human health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollutants* / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Endotoxins* / analysis
  • Endotoxins* / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / genetics
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / genetics
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Workplace / standards


  • Air Pollutants
  • Endotoxins
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors