Altered deposition of inhaled nanoparticles in subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Respiratory tract deposition of airborne particles is a key link to understand their health impact. Experimental data are limited for vulnerable groups such as individuals with respiratory diseases. The aim of this study is to investigate the differences in lung deposition of nanoparticles in the distal lung for healthy subjects and subjects with respiratory disease.

METHODS: Lung deposition of nanoparticles (50 and 100 nm) was measured after a 10 s breath-hold for three groups: healthy never-smoking subjects (n = 17), asymptomatic (active and former) smokers (n = 15) and subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 16). Measurements were made at 1300 mL and 1800 mL volumetric lung depth. Each subject also underwent conventional lung function tests, including post bronchodilator FEV1, VC, and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide, DL,CO. Patients with previously diagnosed respiratory disease underwent a CT-scan of the lungs. Particle lung deposition fraction, was compared between the groups and with conventional lung function tests.

RESULTS: We found that the deposition fraction was significantly lower for subjects with emphysema compared to the other subjects (p = 0.001-0.01), but no significant differences were found between healthy never-smokers and smokers. Furthermore, the particle deposition correlated with pulmonary function tests, FEV1%Pred (p < 0.05), FEV1/VC%Pred (p < 0.01) and DL,CO (p < 0.0005) when all subjects were included. Furthermore, for subjects with emphysema, deposition fraction correlated strongly with DL,CO (Pearson's r = 0.80-0.85, p < 0.002) while this correlation was not found within the other groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Lower deposition fraction was observed for emphysematous subjects and this can be explained by enlarged distal airspaces in the lungs. As expected, deposition increases for smaller particles and deeper inhalation. The observed results have implications for exposure assessment of air pollution and dosimetry of aerosol-based drug delivery of nanoparticles.


External organisations
  • SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy
Original languageEnglish
Article number129
JournalBMC Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 6
Publication categoryResearch