Mechanistic insight into the impact of nanomaterials on asthma and allergic airway disease

Kirsty Meldrum, Chang Guo, Emma Marczylo, Timothy Gant, Rachel Smith, Martin Leonard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease known for its high susceptibility to environmental exposure. Inadvertent inhalation of engineered or incidental nanomaterials is a concern for human health, particularly for those with underlying disease susceptibility. In this review we provide a comprehensive analysis of those studies focussed on safety assessment of different nanomaterials and their unique characteristics on asthma and allergic airway disease. These include in vivo and in vitro approaches as well as human and population studies. The weight of evidence presented supports a modifying role for nanomaterial exposure on established asthma as well as the development of the condition. Due to the variability in modelling approaches, nanomaterial characterisation and endpoints used for assessment in these studies, there is insufficient information for how one may assign relative hazard potential to individual nanoscale properties. New developments including the adoption of standardised models and focussed in vitro and in silico approaches have the potential to more reliably identify properties of concern through comparative analysis across robust and select testing systems. Importantly, key to refinement and choice of the most appropriate testing systems is a more complete understanding of how these materials may influence disease at the cellular and molecular level. Detailed mechanistic insight also brings with it opportunities to build important population and exposure susceptibilities into models. Ultimately, such approaches have the potential to more clearly extrapolate relevant toxicological information, which can be used to improve nanomaterial safety assessment for human disease susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was part funded through the Public Health England PhD Studentship Project Scheme. This work was also part funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Health Impact of Environmental Hazards at King’s College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or Public Health England.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Allergy
  • Asthma
  • Inhalation
  • Lung
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nanoparticles
  • Ultrafine Pollutant


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