Cotton dusts contain condensed tannins and endotoxins, which are suspected of contributing to the development of acute and chronic biological responses in some cotton textile mill workers. Condensed tannin extracted from cotton dust was coated on to cellulose powder, and the tannin coated powder was treated with an alkali solvent system previously developed to reduce the endotoxin content and pulmonary toxicity of cotton dust. Physiological activities of the dusts and powders were compared by assaying the production of the arachidonic acid metabolites prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2 alpha), thromboxane A2 (TxA2) (the precursor to thromboxane B2 (TxB2], leukotriene C4 (LTC4), and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by guinea pig pulmonary cells obtained by lung lavage. Cotton dust stimulated the pulmonary cells to produce a total of 29 pg metabolites per 10(6) cells. Production of metabolites by cells stimulated with tannin coated cellulose powder was reduced to 8.3 pg/10(6) cells. Alkali treatment of the tannin coated cellulose powder resulted in a further decrease in its ability to stimulate the cells, producing 3.5 pg metabolites per 10(6) cells. The ability of the dusts and powders to stimulate production of metabolites of arachidonic acid by pulmonary cells from guinea pigs was highly correlated with tannin content of the materials, but not with endotoxin content as measured by the Limulus amoebocyte lysate (LAL) assay.
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