Inhalation exposure of gas-metal arc stainless steel welding fume increased atherosclerotic lesions in apolipoprotein E knockout mice

Toxicol Lett. 2011 Jul 4;204(1):12-6. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2011.03.030. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Epidemiological studies suggest that welding, a process which generates an aerosol of inhalable gases and metal rich particulates, increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. In this study we analyzed systemic inflammation and atherosclerotic lesions following gas metal arc-stainless steel (GMA-SS) welding fume exposure. Apolipoprotein E knockout (apoE(-/-)) mice, fed a Western diet, were exposed to GMA-SS at 40mg/m(3) for 3h/day for ten days (∼8.26μg daily alveolar deposition). Mice were sacrificed two weeks after exposure and serum chemistry, serum protein profiling and aortic lesion area were determined. There were no significant changes in serum total cholesterol, triglycerides or alanine aminotransferase. Serum levels of uric acid, a potent antioxidant, were decreased perhaps suggesting a reduced capacity to combat systemic oxidative stress. Inflammatory serum proteins interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and monocyte chemoattractant protein 3 (MCP-3) were increased two weeks after GMA-SS exposure. Analysis of atherosclerotic plaques showed an increase in lesion area as the result of GMA-SS exposure. In conclusion, GMA-SS exposure showed evidence of systemic inflammation and increased plaque progression in apoE(-/-) mice. These results complement epidemiological and functional human studies that suggest welding may result in adverse cardiovascular effects.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Apolipoproteins E / physiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / chemically induced*
  • Chemokine CCL7 / blood
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Stainless Steel / pharmacology
  • Welding*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Ccl7 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CCL7
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Stainless Steel