Decreased macrophage phagocytic function due to xenobiotic exposures in vitro, difference in sensitivity between various macrophage models

Food Chem Toxicol. 2018 Feb:112:86-96. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.12.024. Epub 2017 Dec 16.


Both autoimmune disease prevalence and exposure to immunotoxic chemicals have increased the last decades. As a first screening of immunotoxic chemicals possibly affecting development of autoimmunity through attenuated macrophage function, we demonstrate a promising model measuring macrophage function in isolated peritoneal macrophages (PCM) from Wistar rats and C57Bl/6 mice. Immunotoxic effects of bisphenol A (BPA) and a selection of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) were analysed in vitro assessing phagocytic function of macrophages from different sources. Phagocytosis was reduced in PCM of C57Bl/6 mice and Wistar rats after BPA and perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA) exposure, but not in macrophages derived from human and rat monocyte derived macrophages (MDM). On the other hand, in vitro exposure to mixtures of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) showed similar reductions in rat PCM and rat and human MDM phagocytosis. Reduced phagocytosis was partly due to cytotoxicity. PCM isolated from non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice, interleukin 1α/β knockout (IL-1KO) mice and new-born rats were less sensitive to the xenobiotics than PCM from adult wild type rodents. Finally, in vivo studies with NOD mice verified that POP exposure also decreased the number of pancreatic macrophages in pancreatic islets, reflecting early signs of autoimmunity development, similarly as previously described for BPA.

Keywords: Bisphenol A; Macrophage phagocytosis; PFOS; PFUnDA; POPs; Per- and polyfluoralkyl substances.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Fatty Acids / toxicity
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects*
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects*
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Interleukin-1
  • Phenols
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Xenobiotics
  • perfluoroundecanoic acid
  • bisphenol A