Immunization with soot from a non-combustion process provokes formation of antibodies against polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Diana Matschulat, Harald Prestel, Ferdinand Haider, Reinhard Niessner, Dietmar Knopp

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8 Scopus citations


The emission of soot during combustion processes used in transportation, manufacturing, and power generation is of increasing concern because of its serious adverse health effects. In particular, the ability to modulate the immune system has recently been established. In the present investigation, an artificial soot sample that was prepared by fragmentation of acetylene in a laser-induced plasma was used as an antigen for the immunization of a rabbit. A highly sensitive competition curve in an indirect competitive ELISA using a benzo[a]pyrene-BSA conjugate as a coating antigen could be constructed for benzo[a]pyrene with an IC50 of 2.94 μg/l (11.65 nmol/l). In contrast to the high affinity, the soot antiserum dilution (antibody titer) of 1: 750 was rather low. The cross-reactivity was tested with 16 parent polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 7 nitrated polycyclic aromatics, and 3 methylated, hydroxylated or butyric acid derivatives. The results obtained suggest that the vertebrate immune system can respond to an immunization with soot by the generation of high affinity IgG class antibodies against polycyclic aromatics. It is likely that antibodies are raised against the molecular structures which form the framework of the soot particles and not against adsorbed and extractable polyaromatic compounds. The experiments suggest that if soot is considered a T-independent antigen, the isotype switch, essentially from IgM to IgG, could have been caused by co-inoculation with a T-dependent antigen, i.e., mycobacteria contained in Freunds complete adjuvant. However, at the cellular level the mechanism remains to be uncovered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2006


  • IgG antibody
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Rabbit immune response
  • Soot


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