The impact of organic extracts of seasonal PM2.5 on primary human lung epithelial cells and their chemical characterization

Jieun Park, Kyoung Hee Lee, Hyewon Kim, Jisu Woo, Jongbae Heo, Chang Hoon Lee, Seung Muk Yi, Chul Gyu Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lung epithelial cells serve as the first line of defense against various inhaled pollutant particles. To investigate the adverse health effects of organic components of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) collected in Seoul, South Korea, we selected 12 PM2.5 samples from May 2016 to January 2017 and evaluated the effects of organic compounds of PM2.5 on inflammation, cellular aging, and macroautophagy in human lung epithelial cells isolated directly from healthy donors. Organic extracts of PM2.5 specifically induced neutrophilic chemokine and interleukin-8 expression via extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation. Moreover, PM2.5 significantly increased the expression of aging markers (p16, p21, and p27) and activated macroautophagy. Average mass concentrations of organic and elemental carbon had no significant correlations with PM2.5 effects. However, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and n-alkanes were the most relevant components of PM2.5 that correlated with neutrophilic inflammation. Vegetative detritus and residential bituminous coal combustion sources strongly correlated with neutrophilic inflammation, aging, and macroautophagy activation. These data suggest that the chemical composition of PM2.5 is important for determining the adverse health effects of PM2.5. Our study provides encouraging evidence to regulate the harmful components of PM2.5 in Seoul.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59868-59880
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number42
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Cytokine
  • Lung epithelial cells
  • Macroautophagy
  • Organic compounds
  • PM
  • Senescence


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