Modulation of cytokines and chemokines expression by NAC in cadmium chloride treated human lung cells

Environ Toxicol. 2016 Nov;31(11):1612-1619. doi: 10.1002/tox.22165. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Cadmium (Cd), is one of the most hazardous metals found in the environment. Cd exposure through inhalation has been linked to various diseases in lungs. It was shown that Cd induces proinflammatory cytokines through oxidative stress mechanism. In this report, we studied the immunomodulatory effect of a well known antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on cadmium chloride (CdCl2 ) treated human lung A549 cells through human cytokine array 6. The lung cells were treated with 0 or 75 µM CdCl2 alone, 2.5 mM NAC alone, or co-treated with 2.5 mM NAC and 75 µM CdCl2 for 24 h. The viability of cells was measured by crystal violet dye. The array results were validated by human IL-1alpha enzyme- linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit. The viability of the 75 µM CdCl2 alone treated cells was decreased to 44.5%, while the viability of the co-treated cells with 2.5 mM NAC was increased to 84.1% in comparison with untreated cells. In the cell lysate of CdCl2 alone treated cells, 19 and 8 cytokines were up and down-regulated, while in the medium 15 and 3 cytokines were up and downregulated in comparison with the untreated cells. In the co-treated cells, all these cytokines expression was modulated by the NAC treatment. The IL-1α ELISA result showed the same pattern of cytokine expression as the cytokine array. This study clearly showed the modulatory effect of NAC on cytokines and chemokines expression in CdCl2- treated cells and suggests the use of NAC as protective agent against cadmium toxicity. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 31: 1612-1619, 2016.

Keywords: NAC; cadmium; cytokines; human lung cells; immune-modulation.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cadmium Chloride / toxicity*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chemokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1alpha / analysis
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / immunology
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • IL1A protein, human
  • Interleukin-1alpha
  • Protective Agents
  • Cadmium Chloride
  • Acetylcysteine