Background: A reduction of IL-12 production by lung macrophages may partly explain the presumed adjuvant effect of diesel exhaust particles (DEP) in allergy and asthma. IL-12 stimulates T helper type 1 (Th1) lymphocytes, which inhibit Th2 cells via Th1-specific cytokines. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of DEP on the production of IL-12 p40 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated monocytes.
Methods: The human monocytic cell line Mono-Mac-6 was stimulated with LPS (200 ng/ml) and grown with DEP (0-200 microg/ml) for 0, 6 or 24 h. IL-12 p40 and the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF were analysed in the cell supernatants by ELISA and a cell assay, respectively.
Results: Levels of IL-12 p40 correlated inversely with the DEP exposure concentrations, whereas TNF increased in parallel to the DEP concentrations. At a DEP concentration of 200 microg/ml, the amount of IL-12 p40 was 35% of that observed without DEP. The corresponding TNF value was 230% of the control. Reduced viability, binding of cytokines to DEP or endotoxin in the DEP samples cannot fully explain the changes in the concentrations of these two cytokines.
Conclusion: DEP seem to inhibit the production of IL-12 p40 and stimulate that of TNF in activated monocytes. This may partly explain the presumed adjuvant effect of DEP in atopy; by altering the Th1/Th2 balance via down-regulation of IL-12, the Th2 response characteristic of allergy and asthma may be favoured.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel