Moldy environments and toxic pneumonitis

Toxicol Ind Health. 2008 Apr;24(3):177-80. doi: 10.1177/0748233708093356.


Exposure to organic dusts might cause an acute reaction with influenza like symptoms (toxic pneumonitis). Although it is well known that endotoxin, which is often present in organic dusts, may cause this reaction, there is no information about fungal cell wall agents as causative agents. The capacity of different fungal cell wall agents to induce an acute inflammation was evaluated in animal inhalation experiments. Guinea pigs were exposed to an aerosol of endotoxin, molds, and different fungal cell wall agents (FCWA) in a continuous flow exposure chamber, and the number of free lung cells was determined 24 h thereafter. Endotoxin caused a dose-dependent increase in the number of neutrophils and macrophages. None of the other agents tested caused a neutrophil response. The results suggest that toxic pneumonitis in environments with organic dusts is caused by the presence of inhaled endotoxin. Although no effect from FCWA was found, it is well known that this inhalation under chronic conditions will cause lung disease, particularly granulomatous pneumonitis.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Animals
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / immunology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Dust
  • Endotoxins / toxicity*
  • Fungi*
  • Glucans / immunology
  • Glucans / toxicity
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Pneumonia / chemically induced
  • Pneumonia / immunology
  • Pneumonia / microbiology*


  • Aerosols
  • Dust
  • Endotoxins
  • Glucans
  • Lipopolysaccharides