Role of alterations in Ca(2+)-associated signaling pathways in the immunotoxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Academic Article Review uri icon


  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are an important class of environmental pollutants that are known to be carcinogenic and immunotoxic. The effects of PAHs on the immune system of various animals and models have been studied for at least 30 yr. Despite these efforts, the mechanism or mechanisms by which PAHs exert their effects on the immune system are still largely unknown. During recent years, the molecular events associated with lymphocyte activation and receptor-mediated signaling have become increasingly clear. Substantial progress has been made in understanding the molecular and cellular bases for toxicant-induced immune cell injury. Understanding mechanisms of drug or chemical effects on the immune system is an important area of research in the field of immunotoxicology, and indeed in all fields of toxicology. Mechanistic toxicology plays an important role in risk assessment and extrapolation of potential human health effects. In this review, we have summarized recent evidence that has examined the effects of PAHs on the immune system of animals and humans. In particular, we have focused on the effects of PAHs on cell signaling in lymphoid cells and have examined the hypothesis that PAHs alter lymphocyte activation via calcium-dependent mechanisms. Previously published reports are discussed, and new data obtained with murine B cells and cell lines are presented demonstrating the relationship between alterations in intracellular calcium and immune dysregulation. These data demonstrate a strong association between PAH-induced alterations in B- and T-lymphocyte activation and changes in calcium homeostasis.

publication date

  • January 1, 1995