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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2012 Dec 1;265(2):272-8

Pb exposure attenuates hypersensitivity in vivo by increasing regulatory T cells.

Fang L, Zhao F, Shen X, Ouyang W, Liu X, Xu Y, Yu T, Jin B, Chen J, Luo W


Pb is a common environmental pollutant affecting various organs. Exposure of the immune system to Pb leads to immunosuppression or immunodysregulation. Although previous studies showed that Pb exposure can modulate the function of helper T cells, Pb immunotoxicity remains incompletely understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of Pb exposure on T cell development, and the underlying mechanism of Pb-induced suppression of the delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response in vivo. Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 300ppm Pb-acetate solution via the drinking water for six weeks, and we found that Pb exposure significantly increased Pb concentrations in the blood by 4.2-fold (p<0.05) as compared to those in the control rats. In Pb-exposed rats, the amount of thymic CD4(+)CD8(-) and peripheral CD4(+) T cells was significantly reduced, whereas, CD8(+) population was not affected. In contrast to conventional CD4(+) T cells, Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) were increased in both the thymus and peripheral lymphoid organs of Pb-exposed rats. In line with the increase of Tregs, the DTH response of Pb-exposed rats was markedly suppressed. Depletion of Tregs reversed the suppression of DTH response by Pb-exposed CD4(+) T cells in an adoptive transfer model, suggesting a critical role of the increased Tregs in suppressing the DTH response. Collectively, this study revealed that Pb-exposure may upregulate Tregs, thereby leading to immunosuppression.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #23058909 DOI: 10.1016/j.taap.2012.10.001
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Drugs
Entry Created: 2013-01-13