Coal mining causes health problems, such as pneumoconiosis. We have previously shown that prevalence of pneumoconiosis in workers from various coalmine regions positively correlates with levels of bioavailable iron (BAI) in the coals from that region. In the present study, the nature of reactive oxygen species formed by BAI in the coals and its mechanisms of the induction of biological responses were investigated. Human lung epithelial cell line, A549 cells, were used to examine the induction of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, which is known to play a crucial role in the development of pneumoconiosis. We found that levels of IL-6 protein as well as its mRNA were significantly increased in the cells treated for 24 h with 20 μg/cm2 of the BAI-containing Pennsylvania (PA) coal; for example we observed 6.7-fold increase in IL-6 protein. Levels of IL-6 protein in cells treated with the Utah (UT) coal containing low-BAI were only 1.9-fold of the control levels. The enhancing effect on the IL-6 by the PA coal was similar to that caused by hydrogen peroxide. Superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) all had inhibitory effects on the PA coal-induced IL-6 formation. However, CAT had the least protective effect as compared to SOD and NAC. Our results indicate that BAI in the PA coal may induce IL-6 through both ferryl species (via iron autoxidation) and hydroxyl radicals (via the Fenton/Haber Weiss reactions).
Volume 44 | Issue 5
Click here for Editorial Note on CAP Mode