Toxicology of Inhaled Ultrafine Particles and Engineered Nanomaterials
Our laboratory has focused for several years on the toxicology of inhaled ultrafine particles (UFPs), the most numerous size fraction of particulate air pollution. Interests include the impacts of age, gaseous co-pollutant exposure, and health status on the response(s) to inhaled UFPs. We are also interested in determining the basis for potential adverse effects of inhaled particles in the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.
This research focus has naturally led to our work with engineered nanomaterials. The research commonalities between UFP and nanomaterials are numerous, including the kinetics of tissue distribution following exposure, mechanisms of response related to oxidative stress, particle-protein interactions, and the physicochemical characteristics of the particles that determine response. Our research aims are met by using a combination of animal and cell culture models as well as detailed particle characterization.
In addition to looking for nanosized particles in tissues via chemical and microscopic means, responses are determined by measuring markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in the lung lining fluid, lung tissue, blood, circulating inflammatory cells, and extrapulmonary tissues (e.g. heart, liver, spleen, kidney, brain regions). We also have specific projects focused on cardiovascular stability and neurodegeneration following exposures to UFPs and nanomaterials.