The exposure of materials to the respiratory tract can result in a variety of tissue effects including irritation, inflammation and downstream effects such as goblet cell hyperplasia (GCH). GCH is the elevated expression of Goblet cells in the airway and is involved in various diseases that can lead to debilitation conditions. IIVS uses human reconstructed airway tissues (RHuA) from both MatTek and Epithelix to assess exposures that may lead to GCH as an indicator of risk to human health.
A variety of materials can induce changes to the respiratory epithelium. Some of these exposures result in low level toxicities or adverse events that may not manifest as overt cytotoxicity, but may perturb cell systems to generate signaling pathways resulting in the expression of inflammatory mediators such as cytokines. RHuA that are exposed to certain cytokines for prolonged periods of time will overexpress goblet cells. This effect requires several weeks and IIVS’ use of high quality, long-term cultures of RHuA allows the evaluation of products that may cause GCH.