Macrophages from mice were cultured at 37 degrees C with 1640 medium containing 10% bovine serum. The macrophage suspension was made from 50 Swiss mice and was cultured in the following groups: control group; coal dust group (with added coal dust particles (10 micrograms/ml) smaller than 4 microns diameter); subdivided zinc-coal dust group (as coal dust group with zinc added in three different concentrations--namely, 10 ppm, 30 ppm, and 60 ppm). Cells were examined by light microscopy. Obvious differences were found in the rate of cell deaths between the coal dust group and the zinc-coal dust group after culture for 48 hours. The cell membranes were ruptured after culturing with coal dust, and the presence of zinc appeared in some degree to protect cell membranes from damage caused by the dust. Staining the cells with Gomori's modified method, showed that acid phosphatase particles in the zinc-coal dust group were more numerous than in the coal dust group. The results indicate that the trace element zinc may play an important part in protecting against the cytotoxic action of coal dust.
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