Pulmonary immunotoxic potentials of metals are governed by select physicochemical properties: Vanadium agents

Mitchell D. Cohen, Maureen Sisco, Colette Prophete, Lung Chi Chen, Judith T. Zelikoff, Andrew J. Ghio, Jacqueline D. Stonehuerner, Jason J. Smee, Alvin A. Holder, Debbie C. Crans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The in situ reactions of metal ions/complexes are important in understanding the mechanisms by which environmental and occupational metal particles alter lung immune responses. A better understanding of these reactions in situ will also allow for the improved specificity and controlled toxicity of novel metallocompounds to be used as inhaled diagnostics or therapeutics. Our previous work showed that inhalation of metals (e.g., chromium, vanadium, nickel) caused altered lung immune cell function and host resistance. The data also suggested that the degree of immunomodulation induced depended not only on the amount of metal deposited, but also the compound used. If specificity governs pulmonary immunomodulatory potential, it follows that physicochemical properties inherent to the metal have a role in the elicited effects. We hypothe-size that major determinants of any metal compound's potential are its redox behavior, valency (generally referred to as oxidation state and considered speciation in chemical literature), and/or solubility. In accord with the extensive work carried out with vanadium (chemical symbol V) compounds showing the importance of form used, differences in potential for a range of V agents (pentavalent [VV] insoluble vanadium pentoxide and soluble sodium metavanadate, tetravalent [VIV] vanadyl dipicolinate, and trivalent [VIII] bis(dipicolinato)vanadium) were quantified based on induced changes in local bacterial resistance after host inhalation of each agent at 100 μ g V/m3 (5 hr/d for 5 d). Differences in effect between VV forms indicated that solubility was a critical property in in situ pulmonary immunotoxicity. Among the soluble forms, oxidizing vanadate had the greatest impact on resistance; reducing VIII altered resistance to a lesser extent. Both the VIV and insoluble VV had no effect. When data was analyzed in the context of pre-infection lung V burdens, soluble V agents with different oxidation states induced varying responses, supporting the hypothesis that differences in immunomodulatory potential might be attributed to redox behavior or valency. Our findings both provide a basis for understanding why some metals could be a greater health risk than others (when encountered in equal amounts) and will assist in the design of inhalable metallopharmaceuticals by allowing researchers to preempt selection of certain metal ions or complexes for use in such products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunotoxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial clearance
  • Dipic
  • Listeria
  • Vanadium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Toxicology


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