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Toxicity of Lunar and Martian Dust Simulants to Alveolar Macrophages Isolated from Human VolunteersNASA is planning to build a habitat on the Moon and use the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars. JSC-1, an Arizona volcanic ash that has mineral properties similar to lunar soil, is used to produce lunar environments for instrument and equipment testing. NASA is concerned about potential health risks to workers exposed to these fine dusts in test facilities. The potential toxicity of JSC-1 and a Martian soil simulant (JSC-Mars-1, a Hawaiian volcanic ash) was evaluated using human alveolar macrophages (HAM) isolated from volunteers; titanium dioxide and quartz were used as reference dusts. This investigation is a prerequisite to studies of actual lunar dust. HAM were treated in vitro with these test dusts for 24 h; assays of cell viability and apoptosis showed that JSC-1 and TiO2 were comparable, and more toxic than saline control, but less toxic than quartz. HAM treated with JSC-1 or JSC-Mars 1 showed a dose-dependent increase in cytotoxicity. To elucidate the mechanism by which these dusts induce apoptosis, we investigated the involvement of the scavenger receptor (SR). Pretreatment of cells with polyinosinic acid, an SR blocker, significantly inhibited both apoptosis and necrosis. These results suggest HAM cytotoxicity may be initiated by interaction of the dust particles with SR. Besides being cytotoxic, silica is known to induce shifting of HAM phenotypes to an immune active status. The immunomodulatory effect of the simulants was investigated. Treatment of HAM with either simulant caused preferential damage to the suppressor macrophage subpopulation, leading to a net increase in the ratio of activator (RFD1+) to suppressor (RFD1+7+) macrophages, a result similar to treatment with silica. It is recommended that appropriate precautions be used to minimize exposure to these fine dusts in large-scale engineering applications.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Latch, Judith N.
(Texas Univ. Health Science Center Houston, TX, United States)
Hamilton, Raymond F., Jr.
(Texas Univ. Health Science Center Houston, TX, United States)
Holian, Andrij
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
James, John T.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2007
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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