Occupational exposure to grain dusts can cause bronchitis, particularly to grain sorghum dust. Bronchitis is associated with the presence of increased numbers of neutrophils. To determine how grain dusts could cause neutrophil recruitment to the airways, extract of whole-grain sorghum, corn, and soybean dusts and of pulverized components of these plants were made with Hanks balanced salt solution (HBSS) and used in direct neutrophil chemotaxis experiments. The glume of the grain sorghum plant, the structure holding the seeds in place, caused the migration of the greatest number of neutrophils compared to HBSS [132 ±7 vs. 60 cells/high-power field (hpf) ± 2 SEM, p <.001J, followed by whole- grain sorghum dust (121 ±5 cells/hpf). Next, bovine bronchial epithelial cells (BBECs) were obtained from fresh lungs and grown to near confluence before challenge with a 10% solution of grain dust and grain plant extracts. The grain sorghum glume and whole-grain sorghum dusts caused release of the greatest amount of neutrophil chemotactic activity (NCA) from BBECs compared to the medium M199 negative control (141 ± 6 and 15 ± 7, respectively, vs. 64 cells/hpf ± 3 SEM, p <.001). The ability to cause neutrophils to migrate by direct and indirect means did not correlate with levels in the grain dusts of endotoxin, which is known to cause release of NCA from bronchial epithelial cells. Therefore, this article describes additional mechanisms by which grain dusts can cause pulmonary inflammation and that are independent of endotoxin levels.
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