For the risk assessment of activities involving bioagents, the toxic potential emanating from bioagents must, among other things, be taken into account. Up to now, only endotoxins are used to assess the toxic potential of bioaerosols at workplaces. Other toxin classes such as exotoxins or mycotoxins cannot be detected with the current analytical techniques. Therefore, the aim of this project was to establish a method that allows the detection of exotoxins in bioaerosols and thus to characterise the toxic potential in more detail.
Since exotoxins consist of proteins, bioaerosol samples were analysed using metaproteome analysis. The metaproteome refers to the entirety of proteins from different organisms in a sample and can be measured using high-resolution mass spectrometry.
In the course of the project, proteins were successfully extracted from bioaerosol samples of the inhalable fraction of intensive animal farming (pigs, poultry) and subsequently analysed by metaproteomics. Proteins indicating toxic effects could be identified. This method can now be used for further scenarios or matrices to gain indications of a possible toxic potential or to generally characterise the present proteins in a sample in connection with taxonomic (Which organisms exist in a sample?) and metabolic (Are certain states of these organisms discernable?) questions. In further research projects the method is already planned or adapted for other matrices, as for example, exhaled particles.
Unit 4.7 "Biological Agents"
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