Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is thought to arise from the direct effect of asbestos on mesothelial cells. However, MM takes a long time to develop following exposure to asbestos, which suggests that the effects of asbestos are complex. The present study examined the effects of asbestos exposure on the cell growth of MeT-5A human mesothelial cells via cytokines produced by immune cells. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stimulated with antibodies against cluster of differentiation (CD)3 and CD28 upon exposure to the asbestos chrysotile A (CA) or crocidolite (CR); the growth of MeT-5A cells in media supplemented with PBMC culture supernatants was subsequently examined. MeT-5A cells exhibited an increase in proliferation when grown in supernatant from the 7-day PBMC culture exposed to CA or CR. Analysis of cytokine production demonstrated increased levels of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin (IL)-1α, IL-1β, IL-3, IL-5, IL-13 and IL-17A in supernatants. Individual administration of these cytokines, excluding G-CSF and GM-CSF, led to an increase in cell growth of MeT-5A, whereas this effect was not observed following the combined administration of these cytokines. The results indicate that cytokines secreted by immune cells upon exposure to asbestos cause an increase in the growth activity of mesothelial cells, suggesting that alterations in the production of cytokines by immune cells may contribute to tumorigenesis in individuals exposed to asbestos.
Keywords: T-cell; Th2 cytokines; asbestos; mesothelial cells; mesothelioma; peripheral blood mononuclear cells.