Imbalanced immune responses involving inflammatory molecules and immune-related pathways in the lung of acute and subchronic arsenic-exposed mice

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Inorganic arsenic has been claimed to increase the risk of pulmonary diseases through ingestion, as opposed to inhalation, which makes it a unique and intriguing environmental toxicant. However, the immunotoxic effects of lung, one of the targets of arsenic exposure, have not been extensively investigated in vivo. In the present study, we first confirmed that 2.5, 5 and 10 mg/kg NaAsO2 orally for 24 h dose-dependently triggered the infiltration of neutrophils, lymphocytes and macrophages in BALF. Not only the transcription activity, but also the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α were consistently raised in the lung and BALF of acute arsenic-exposed mice. Acute oral administration of NaAsO2 also raised pulmonary MPO activity and mRNA levels of chemokine Mip-2 and Mcp-1. Meanwhile, obvious histopathological damages with inflammatory cells infiltration and erythrocyte aggregation around the capillaries were verified in the lung of mice drank arsenic-rich water freely for 3 months. Furthermore, we affirmed notable disturbance of CD4+ T-cell differentiation in the lung of acute arsenic-exposed mice, as demonstrated by up-regulated mRNA levels of regulator Gata3 and cytokine Il-4 of Th2, enhanced Foxp3 and Il-10 of Treg, down-regulated T-bet and Ifn-γ of Th1, as well as lessened Ror-γt and Il-23 of Th17. However, impressive elevation of cytokine Ifn-γ and Il-23, as well as moderate enhancement of Il-4 and Il-10 were found in the lung by subchronic arsenic administration. Finally, our present study demonstrated that both a single and sustained arsenic exposure prominently increased the expression of immune-related p38, JNK, ERK1/2 and NF-κB proteins in the lung tissue. While disrupting the pulmonary redox homeostasis by increasing MDA levels, exhausting GSH and impaired enzyme activities of CAT and GSH-Px, antioxidant regulator NRF2 and its downstream targets HO-1 and GSTO1/2 were also up-regulated by both acute and subchronic arsenic treatment. Conclusively, our present study demonstrated both acute and subchronic oral administration of arsenic triggers multiple pulmonary immune responses involving inflammatory molecules and T-cell differentiation, which might be closely associated with the imbalanced redox status and activation of immune-related MAPKs, NF-κB and anti-inflammatory NRF2 pathways.

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