Iron oxide nanoparticles attenuate T helper 17 cell responses in vitro and in vivo

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Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) have been shown to attenuate T helper (Th)1 and Th2 cell-mediated immunity in ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized mice. The objective of this study is to investigate the effects of IONPs on the immune responses of Th17 cells, a subset of T cells involved in various inflammatory pathologies. For in vivo study, a murine model of delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) was employed. BALB/c mice received a single dose of IONPs (0.2–10 mg iron/kg) via the tail vein 1 h prior to ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization. Their footpads were subcutaneously challenged with OVA to induce DTH reactions. The expression of Th17 cell-related molecules in inflamed footpads were examined by immunohistochemistry. For in vitro study, OVA-primed splenocytes were directly exposed to IONPs (1–100 μg iron/mL), and then re-stimulated with OVA in culture. The expression of Th17 cell-related molecules were measured by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. IONP administration attenuated the number of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-17, the transcription factor ROR-γ, and chemokine receptor 6 positive cells in OVA-challenged footpads, whereas the number of transforming growth factor-β, IL-23 and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 20 positive cells was not altered. Direct exposure of OVA-primed splenocytes to IONPs suppressed the production of IL-6 and IL-17, and the mRNA expression of IL-17 and ROR-γt. These data indicate that exposure to IONPs attenuates Th17 cell responses in vivo and in vitro.

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