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Endotoxin in concentrated coarse and fine ambient particles induces acute systemic inflammation in controlled human exposures

Published: July 26th, 2013

Revised: July 21st, 2014


Knowledge of the inhalable particulate matter components responsible for health effects is important for developing targeted regulation. Objectives In a double-blind randomised cross-over trial of controlled human exposures to concentrated ambient particles (CAPs) and their endotoxin and (1→3)-β-D-glucan components, we evaluated acute inflammatory responses.


35 healthy adults were exposed to five 130-min exposures at rest: (1) fine CAPs (∼250 mg/m3); (2) coarse CAPs (∼200 mg/m3); (3) second coarse CAPs (∼200 mg/m3); (4) filtered air; and (5) medical air. Induced sputum cell counts were measured at screening and 24 h postexposure. Venous blood total leucocytes, neutrophils, interleukin-6 and high-sensitivity C reactive protein (CRP) were measured pre-exposure, 3 and 24 h postexposure.


Relative to filtered air, an increase in blood leucocytes 24 h (but not 3 h) postexposure was significantly associated with coarse (estimate=0.44×109 cells/L (95% CI 0.01 to 0.88); n=132) and fine CAPs (0.68×109 cells /L (95% CI 0.19 to 1.17); n=132), but not medical air. Similar associations were found with neutrophil responses. An interquartile increase in endotoxin (5.4 ng/m3) was significantly associated with increased blood leucocytes 3 h postexposure (0.27×109 cells/L (95% CI 0.03 to 0.51); n=98) and 24 h postexposure (0.37×109 cells/L (95% CI 0.12 to 0.63); n=98). This endotoxin effect did not differ by particle size. There were no associations with glucan concentrations or interleukin-6, CRP or sputum responses.


In healthy adults, controlled coarse and fine ambient particle exposures independently induced acute systemic inflammatory responses. Endotoxin contributes to the inflammatory role of particle air pollution.

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Towards a unified paradigm for sequence-based identification of Fungi

Published: July 17th, 2013

Revised: July 21st, 2014


The nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region is the formal fungal barcode and in most cases the marker of choice for the exploration of fungal diversity in environmental samples. Two problems are particularly acute in the pursuit of satisfactory taxonomic assignment of newly generated ITS sequences: (i) the lack of an inclusive, reliable public reference data set and (ii) the lack of means to refer to fungal species, for which no Latin name is available in a standardized stable way. Here, we report on progress in these regards through further development of the UNITE database ( for molecular identification of fungi. All fungal species represented by at least two ITS sequences in the international nucleotide sequence databases are now given a unique, stable name of the accession number type (e.g. Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus | GU586904 | SH133781.05FU), and their taxonomic and ecological annotations were corrected as far as possible through a distributed, third-party annotation effort. We introduce the term ‘species hypothesis’ (SH) for the taxa discovered in clustering on different similarity thresholds (97–99%). An automatically or manually designated sequence is chosen to represent each such SH. These reference sequences are released ( for use by the scientific community in, for example, local sequence similarity searches and in the QIIME pipeline. The system and the data will be updated automatically as the number of public fungal ITS sequences grows. We invite everybody in the position to improve the annotation or metadata associated with their particular fungal lineages of expertise to do so through the new Web-based sequence management system in UNITE.

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