Oxidative stress caused by generation of free radicals and related reactive oxygen species (ROS) at the sites of deposition has been proposed as a mechanism for many of the adverse health outcomes associated with exposure to particulate matter (PM). Recently, a new profluorescent nitroxide molecular probe (BPEAnit) developed at QUT was applied in an entirely novel, rapid and non-cell based assay for assessing the oxidative potential of particles (i.e. potential of particles to induce oxidative stress). The technique was applied on particles produced by several combustion sources, namely cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust and wood smoke. One of the main findings from the initial studies undertaken at QUT was that the oxidative potential per PM mass significantly varies for different combustion sources as well as the type of fuel used and combustion conditions. However, possibly the most important finding from our studies was that there was a strong correlation between the organic fraction of particles and the oxidative potential measured by the PFN assay, which clearly highlights the importance of organic species in particle-induced toxicity
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