The role of in vitro gene expression profiling in particulate matter health research.
Exposure to particulate matter (PM) is consistently associated with increased morbidity and mortality rate. The mechanisms for these adverse health effects have been vigorously investigated for many years, but remain uncertain, in part due to the complex interactions between host and exposure. Over the past decade, the use of global gene expression profiling has increased to investigate molecular changes in an attempt to gain more insight into the complex mechanisms that underlie the adverse health effects induced by PM. These experiments have been performed mostly in cell cultures, in part due to the easy availability and maneuverability of different cell types. Whether or not the results obtained from these in vitro experiments are relevant to human exposure is unclear. In this study, cell culture studies were reviewed that used microarray technology to measure global gene expression in response to PM and the findings discussed in the context of global gene expression results obtained from animal and human exposure studies. Ten in vitro studies were identified from PubMed that reported global gene expression results in response to PM exposure. Despite difference in cell types, microarray platforms, incubation time, and PM sources and doses, these experiments showed commonality in the expression of genes and pathways, especially xenobiotic metabolism, oxidative stress, and inflammation. These gene expression profiles were consistent with results from animal and human controlled exposure experiments. The in vitro experiments also uncovered novel biological mechanisms that may be important in PM-induced health effects reported in epidemiological studies. Data indicate that in vitro microarray experiments complement animal and human exposure studies and allow the PM-associated health research to focus on the "toxic" components in PM and novel mechanisms, and may enhance risk assessment beyond the current mass-based standards.
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