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Feasibility of Biomarker Studies for Engineered Nanoparticles: What Can Be Learned From Air Pollution Research

Li, Ning PhD; Nel, Andre E. MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31821b1bf2
Epidemiologic Research: Original Article

Objective: Occupational exposure to engineered nanoparticles (NP) may pose health risks to the workers. This article is to discuss the feasibility of identifying biomarkers that are associated with NP exposure.

Methods: Scientific literature on the adverse health effects of ambient ultrafine particles (UFP) and NP was reviewed to discuss the feasibility of conducting biomarker studies to identify NP-induced early biological changes.

Results: Various approaches for biomarker studies have been identified, including potential injury pathways that need to be considered and the methodologies that may be used for such studies.

Conclusions: Although NP may have novel mechanisms of injury, much can be learned from our experience in studying UFP. Oxidative stress-related pathways can be an important consideration for identifying NP-associated biomarkers, and one of the most effective approaches for such studies may be proteome profiling.

Clinical Significance: Biomarker studies will provide valuable information to identify early biological events associated with the adverse health effects of engineered nanomaterials before the manifestation of clinical outcomes. This is particularly important for the health surveillance of workers who may be at higher risk due to their occupational settings.

Author Information

From the Division of NanoMedicine, Department of Medicine (Dr Li, Dr Nel) and Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (Dr Nel), University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles.

Address correspondence to: Ning Li, PhD, Division of NanoMedicine, Department of medicine, UCLA, 10833 Le Conte Ave, 52-175 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095;

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine