The effect of different workplace nanoparticles on the immune systems of employees

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Currently, nanoparticles are widely present in the environment and are being used in various industrial technologies. Nanoparticles affect immune functions, causing different immune responses. The aim of the current study was to evaluate several cytokines, interleukin (IL)-1b, IL-6, IL-8, tumour necrosis factor-a (TNF-α), interferon-γ, adhesive molecule sICAM-1, macrophage inhibitory protein 1a (MIP1a) and secretory immunoglobulin A, in nasal lavage fluid and in the peripheral blood of healthy subjects exposed to workplace nanoparticles. Thirty-six employees from three different environments were examined: 12 from a metalworking company, 12 from a woodworking company and 12 office workers. The nanoparticles in the different workplaces were detected in the air in the immediate vicinity of the employees. The particle number concentration and surface area values were significantly higher in the workplaces of the metal- and woodworking industries, but concentrations of mass were lower (the measurements were performed by an electrical low-pressure impactor ELPI+). Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS, an attachment to a high-resolution SEM) was used to provide elemental analysis or chemical characterization of the dust particles in a low-vacuum field-free mode operating at a potential of 15 kV spot 3.0. The technique used provided quantitative and spatial analyses of the distribution of elements through mapping (two to three parallel measurements) and point analysis (four to five parallel measurements). Samples from the metal industry contained more ultramicroscopic and nanometric particles, e.g. toxic metals such as Zn, Mn and Cr, and fewer microscopic dust particles. The nasal lavage and peripheral blood were taken at the beginning and the end of the working week, when immune indices were measured. Our data showed a statistically significant increased level of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α in serum in both exposed groups compared with office workers as well as a higher level of TNF-α in workers from the woodworking company compared with the metalworking employees. We found an elevated level of IL-6 in the exposed groups as well as an elevated level of IL-8 in the nasal lavage in woodworking employees after work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number320
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Adhesive molecule
  • Cytokines
  • Environmental
  • Health and safety effects
  • Immune system
  • Nasal lavage
  • Wood and metal nanoparticles

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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