Acute toxicity of lead particulates on pulmonary alveolar macrophages. Ultrastructural and microanalytical studies.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Although it is well established that respiratory uptake of lead-containing particles plays a substantial role in the epidemiology of plumbism, relatively little is known about the role of the pulmonary alveolar macrophage in lead poisoning. An in vitro system was designed to investigate the effects of lead oxide particles of respirable size on the rabbit alveolar macrophage. The studies were concerned with the intracellular solubility of PbO and Pb3O4 and changes in fine structure attributable to lead toxicity. The distribution of phagocytosed lead and its intracellular reprecipitation complexes was established by electron microprobe analysis and secondary ion mass spectroscopy in conjunction with transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, scanning transmission electron microscopy, and backscatter imaging. It was found that Pb3O4, PbO and PbO-coated particles were ingested by the rabbit alveolar macrophages and that each of these lead oxide compounds produced similar damage to the fine structure of the cell. Swelling of the mitochondria, nuclear membrane, and endoplasmic reticulum was common, as well as were characteristic reprecipitation complexes of lead, phosphorous, and calcium within the nuclear heterochromatin and cytoplasm of the cell. The precipitation complexes were not seen in cells incubated with the particles if phagocytosis was blocked by 0.22-microns, membrane filters. It was concluded that phagocytosis of these lead oxide particles was necessary to produce the cytopathic changes. It is suggested that solubilization of lead from the ingested particles in phagosomes of macrophages results in the liberation of intracellular lead with the resultant formation of reprecipitation complexes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • deVries, CR; Ingram, P; Walker, SR; Linton, RW; Gutknecht, WF; Shelburne, JD

Published Date

  • January 1983

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 48 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 35 - 44

PubMed ID

  • 6823088

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0023-6837


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States