TOPIC II "Aerosol Toxicology"

The first contact of the human body to air pollutants takes primarily place at the lung epithelium, which is a natural interface between the inhaled air and the body´s liquids. Therefore, the topic group Aerosol Toxicology exposes human lung cell and co-culture models at the air-liquid-interface (ALI). ALI cell cultures reflect the natural situation of the lung epithelium without any need for animal models. Additionally, ALI exposures consider particles as well as the gas phase of an aerosol, which makes ALI exposures highly realistic compared to exposures to collected particle samples submerged in a cell culture medium. In order to analyze specific responses of the cell culture systems, classical cytotoxicity assays are combined with comprehensive multi-omics analyses. Responses on transcriptome and proteome levels are measured in cooperation with HMGU core facilities and other project partners. Simultaneous measurements of the chemical and physical aerosol composition enable to find new relations between the regulation of certain genes or proteins and certain aerosol properties. In that way, substances can be identified that are responsible for certain cellular responses and thus could have an impact on the onset or aggravation of environmental diseases. The aim is to develop specific strategies for disease prevention by targeted avoidance of so far unknown risk factors.