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Maternal exposure to particulate matter alters early post-natal lung function and immune cell development

Background: In utero exposure to particulate matter (PM) from a range of sources is associated with adverse post-natal health; however, the effect of maternal exposure to community-sampled PM on early post-natal lung and immune development is poorly understood.

Objectives: Using a mouse model, we aimed to determine whether in utero exposure to PM alters early post-natal lung function and immune cell populations. We used PM collected from ceiling voids in suburban houses as a proxy for community PM exposure.

Methods: Pregnant C57BL/6 mice were intranasally exposed to ceiling derived PM, or saline alone, at gestational day (E) 13.5, 15.5, and 17.5. When mice were two weeks old, we assessed lung function by the forced oscillation technique, and enumerated T and B cell populations in the spleen and thymus by flow cytometry.

Results: Maternal exposure to PM impaired somatic growth of male offspring resulting in reduced lung volume and deficits in lung function. There was no effect on thymic T cell populations in dams and their male offspring but PM decreased the CD4 +CD25 + T cell population in the female offspring. In contrast, maternal exposure to PM increased splenic CD3 +CD4 + and CD3 +CD8 + T cells in dams, and there was some evidence to suggest inhibition of splenic T cell maturation in male but not female offspring.

Conclusions: Our findings suggested that maternal exposure to ceiling void PM has the capacity to impair early somatic growth and alter early life immune development in a sex specific manner.


Publication title

Environmental Research








Tasmanian School of Medicine



Place of publication


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Copyright 2018 Elsevier Inc.

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Clinical health not elsewhere classified

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