2009 Volume 34 Issue 5 Pages 483-492
Diesel exhaust particles (DEP), a well-known air pollutant, exacerbate type I hypersensitivity conditions, such as asthma and pollen allergy. In this study, we examined the effect of diesel exhaust (DE) exposure on delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), a type IV hypersensitivity, induced with methyl-bovine serum albumin (mBSA) in C57BL/6 mice. Mice were exposed to DE containing DEP at a dose of 1.78 mg/m3 in an inhalation chamber for 14 days. On Day 7, DTH mice and DE-exposed DTH mice were injected s.c. with 200 µl of 1.25 mg/ml mBSA emulsified with CFA in the dorsal region as initial sensitization. On Day 14, mice were injected s.c. into one footpad with 20 µl of 10 mg/ml mBSA dissolved in PBS as challenge. On Day15, footpad thickness and spleen weight were measured. Significant footpad swelling (%) was observed in DTH mice compared with normal control mice, and this swelling was significantly augmented by DE exposure. The levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-6, in DTH mice were significantly higher than in normal mice, and were also further enhanced by DE exposure. DE exposure increased production of IL-17, which enhances local tissue inflammation through up-regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, while production of IL-10, which inhibits local tissue inflammation through suppression of immune cell proliferation, was unchanged. No change was observed in the percentage of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells in splenic lymphocytes following DE exposure. IL-6 production was increased by DE, and this would facilitate the differentiation of naïve T cells to IL-17-producing Th17 cells, while concomitantly suppressing the competing differentiation pathway to IL-10-producing Treg cells. Our results indicate that DE inhalation may, in part, exacerbate the pathological symptoms of DTH and induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-17.