Low-dose synergistic immunosuppression of T-dependent antibody responses by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and arsenic in C57BL/6J murine spleen cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and arsenic are both environmental agents that are known to have significant immunotoxicity. Previous studies have shown that PAH exposure of spleen cells in vitro produces significant immune suppression of humoral immunity, especially when P450 activation products are examined. Exposure to arsenic, particularly sodium arsenite, has also been found to be suppressive to antibody responses in vitro and in vivo. The purpose of the present studies was to examine the immunotoxicity of PAHs and arsenite following coexposures with the theory being that the agents may exert synergistic actions, which might be based on their different mechanisms of action. Spleen cells were isolated from male C57BL/6J wild-type mice and treated with PAHs and/or arsenic (arsenite or arsenate). Immunotoxicity assays were used to assess the T-dependent antibody response (TDAR) to sheep red blood cells (SRBCs), measured by a direct plaque-forming cell (PFC) assay. Cell viability was measured by trypan blue staining. Spleen cell viability was not altered following 4 days of PAH and/or arsenic treatment. However, the TDAR demonstrated suppression by both PAHs and arsenic in a concentration-dependent manner. p53 was also induced by NaAsO(2) (As(3)(+)) and PAHs alone or in combination. The PAHs and their metabolites investigated included benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), BaP-7,8-diol, BaP-7,8-diol-9,10-epoxide (BPDE), 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA), DMBA-3,4-diol, dibenzo[a,l]pyrene (DB[a,l]P). PAH metabolites were found to be more potent than parent compounds in producing immunosuppression and inducing p53 expression. Interestingly, DB[a,l]P, a potent carcinogenic PAH not previously characterized for immunotoxicity, was also found to be strongly immunosuppressive. Arsenite (NaAsO(2), As(3)(+)) was found to produce immunosuppression at concentrations as low as 0.5 microM and was immunosuppressive at a 10-fold lower concentration than sodium arsenate (Na(2)HAsO(4), As(5)(+)). Coexposure of spleen cell cultures to PAHs and As(3)(+), both at individual low-effect concentrations, was found to produce profound suppression of the TDAR demonstrating synergy between these two chemical classes of agents.Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010