Environ Toxicol. 2021 Nov 12. doi: 10.1002/tox.23405. Online ahead of print.
The mechanism of the sterile inflammatory response in the respiratory tract induced by exposure to sterile particles has not been fully elucidated. The aim of our study is to explore the earlier events in initiating inflammatory response at molecular and cellular level in primary cultured human airway epithelial cells (AEC) exposed to silica particles in order to provide information for earlier diagnosis and prevention of silica particle-induced toxicity as well as possible information on the genesis of silicosis. We isolated primary AEC from three healthy adults and treated them with silica particles at different concentrations for 48 h. We found evidence for silica-induced inflammasome activation by the co-localization of Caspase-1 and NLRP3, as well as increased levels of IL-1β and IL-18. Lactate dehydrogenase and NucGreen analysis proved the occurrence of pyroptosis. High throughput mRNA sequencing showed that the inflammatory response and NF-κB signaling pathways were significantly enriched in gene ontology and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes analysis, and pyroptosis-related genes were up-regulated. The miR-455-3p and five lncRNAs (LOC105375913, NEAT1, LOC105375181, LOC100506098, and LOC105369370) were verified as key factors related to the mechanism by ceRNA network analysis. LOC105375913 was first discovered to be associated with inflammation in AEC. These data suggest that microcrystalline silica can induce significant inflammation and pyroptosis in human primary AEC through NLRP3 inflammasome pathway and NF-κB signaling pathway at both the gene and protein levels, and the possible mechanism could be miR-455-3p mediated ceRNA hypothesis. Our data provide a method for the studies of the respiratory toxicity of fine particulate matter and the pathogenesis of early silicosis. The miR-455-3p and five lncRNAs related ceRNA network might be the toxicity mechanism of microcrystalline silica particles to AEC.
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