Formaldehyde exposure induces regulatory T cell-mediated immunosuppression via calcineurin-NFAT signalling pathway

2020-10-12

In this study, we investigated the effects of Formaldehyde (FA) exposure on splenic immune responses wherein helper T cells become activated and differentiate into effector T and regulatory T cells. BALB/c mice were exposed to two FA concentrations (1.38 mg/m3 and 5.36 mg/m3) for 4 h/day and 5 days/week for 2 weeks. FA-induced immune responses were examined by the production of cytokines, expression of mRNAs, and distributions of helper T cells and regulatory T cells. Moreover, expression of calcineurin and NFATs, regulatory T cell-related signalling proteins, were evaluated. FA exposure suppressed Th2-, Th1-, and Th17-related splenic cytokines in a dose-dependent manner. mRNA expression of splenic cytokines was also decreased by FA exposure, which correlated with decreased cytokine expression. In parallel, FA exposure promoted T cell differentiation into regulatory T cells in a dose-dependent manner supported by the expression of calcineurin and NFAT1. Taken together, our results indicated that FA exposure increases the number of regulatory T cells via calcineurin-NFAT signalling, thereby leading to effector T cell activity suppression with decreased T cell-related cytokine secretion and mRNA expression. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms underlying the adverse effects of FA and accordingly have general implications for human health, particularly in occupational settings.

Authors: Jeongsik Park, Hyo-Seon Yang, Mi-Kyung Song, Dong Im Kim, Kyuhong Lee
; Full Source: Scientific reports 2020 Oct 12;10(1):17023. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-72502-9.