Volcanic ash-driven worsening of mucosal inflammation in an experimental colitis model

María Lucía Orsini Delgado, Alicia Sambuelli, Silvia Negreira, Anibal Gil, Leandro D′Elia, Paola L. Smaldini, Guillermo H. Docena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Particulate matter exposure and related chemical changes in drinking water have been associated with health problems and inflammatory disorders. This study aimed to examine the effect of orally administered ash-water dilution on the gut of mice under normal and inflammatory conditions. Balb/c mice received ash-released soluble and dust-suspended components in the drinking water for 14 days. On day 7, animals were intrarectally instilled with TNBS in ethanol or flagellin from Salmonella typhimurium in PBS. At sacrifice, colon segments were collected and histologic damage, mRNA expression and cytokine levels in tissue were evaluated. In addition, these parameters were also evaluated in IL-10 null mice. We found that mice that received 5% w. fine-ash dilution in the drinking water worsened colitis signs. Weight loss, shortening of the colon, tissue edema with mucosa and submucosa cell infiltration and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines were enhanced compared to control mice. A more pronounced inflammation was observed in IL-10 null mice. In addition, markers of NLRP3-dependent inflammasome activation were found in animals exposed to ash. In conclusion, ingestion of contaminated water with dust-suspended particulate matter enhanced the inflammatory response in the gut, probably due to alteration of the gut barrier and promoting an intense contact with the luminal content. This study critically appraises the response for fine particulate matter in uncommon illnesses reported for volcanic ash pollution. We suggest actions to enable better prediction and assessment the health impacts of volcanic eruptions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118351
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Colitis
  • Colon
  • Inflammation
  • Mucosal immunity
  • Volcanic-ash


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