The objective of this study was to evaluate the combined effects of mineral fibres and cigarette smoke on the production of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) by alveolar macrophages. Rats were exposed to cigarette smoke in vivo, and production of TNF by alveolar macrophages was measured in the presence of mineral fibres in vitro. For smoke exposure, rats were divided into two groups. Five were exposed to a daily concentration of 10 mg/m3 of cigarette smoke for an eight hour period, and five rats (controls) were not exposed to smoke. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed after exposure to smoke and the recovered alveolar macrophages were incubated with either chrysotile or ceramic fibres on a microplate for 24 hours. Activity of TNF in the supernatant was determined by the L-929 fibroblast cell bioassay. When alveolar macrophages were not stimulated by mineral fibres, production of TNF by rats exposed to smoke and unexposed rats was essentially the same. When alveolar macrophages were stimulated in vitro by chrysotile or ceramic fibres, production of TNF by alveolar macrophages from rats exposed to smoke was higher than that by alveolar macrophages from unexposed rats. The findings suggest that cigarette smoke and mineral fibres have a synergistic effect on TNF production by alveolar macrophages.
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