Alteration of Inflammatory Cytokines by Volatile Organic Compounds in T Lymphocytes

  • Lee, Ji-Sook (Department of Clinical Laboratory Science, Wonkwang Health Science University) ;
  • Kim, In-Sik (Department of Biomedical Laboratory Science, School of Medicine, Eulji University and Eulji University Medical Sciences Research Center)
  • Received : 2011.03.15
  • Accepted : 2011.03.19
  • Published : 2011.03.31


In the present study, we investigated whether volatile organic compounds induce inflammatory response in human T lymphocytes by evaluating the alteration of inflammatory cytokines. Volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, o-xylene, benzene, and hydroquinone have no cytotoxic effects on Jurkat T cells at a high concentration of 50 ${\mu}M$ for 48 h. IL-2, IL-4, IL-13, TNF-${\alpha}$ and IFN-${\gamma}$ were increased after the treatment with volatile organic compounds, although alteration of cytokines is different among volatile organic compounds. LPS as a positive control increased the secretion of IL-2, IL-4, IL-13, TNF-${\alpha}$ and IFN-${\gamma}$. MCP-1 and CCL17 (thymus and activation-regulated chemokine, TARC) were weakly increased after the treatment with volatile organic compounds but the amount of the increased cytokine was below 20 pg/ml. These results suggest that the measurement of cytokine in Jurkat T cells may be used as a useful method for evaluating the toxicity of volatile organic compounds in immune response.


  1. Bernstein JA, Alexis N, Bacchus H, Bernstein IL, Fritz P, Horner E, Li N, Mason S, Nel A, Oullette J, Reijula K, Reponen T, Seltzer J, Smith A, Tarlo SM. The health effects of nonindustrial indoor air pollution. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008. 121: 585-591.
  2. Curtsinger JM, Mescher MF. Inflammatory cytokines as a third signal for T cell activation. Curr Opin Immunol. 2010. 22: 333-340.
  3. Golding BT, Watson WP. Possible mechanisms of carcinogenesis after exposure to benzene. IARC Scientific Pub. 1999. 150: 75-88.
  4. Kim YJ, Woo HD, Kim BM, Lee YJ, Kang SJ, Cho YH, Chung HW. Risk assessment of hydroquinone, differential responses of cell growth and lethality correlated to hydroquinone concentration. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2009. 72: 1272 -1278.
  5. Li Q, Aubrey MT, Christian T, Freed BM. Differential inhibition of DNA synthesis in human T cells by the cigarette tar components hydroquinone and catechol. Fundam Appl Toxicol.1997. 38: 148-165.
  6. Lucey DR, Clerici M, Shearer GM. Type 1 and type 2 cytokine dysregulation in human infectious, neoplastic, and inflammatory diseases. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1996. 9: 532-562.
  7. Matsuoka T, Takaki A, Ohtaki H, Shioda S. Early changes to oxidative stress levels following exposure to formaldehyde in ICR mice. J Toxicol Sci. 2010. 35: 721-730.
  8. McCue JM, Link KL, Eaton SS, Freed BM. Exposure to cigarette tar inhibits ribonucleotide reductase and blocks lymphocyte proliferation. J Immunol. 2000. 165: 6771-6775.
  9. Moon SH, Yang EJ, Song BB, Kim B-M, Lee J-S, Kim IS. Effects of benzene, phenol and hydroquinone on proliferation, differentiation and migration of human eosinophilic EoL-1 cells. J Exp Biomed Sci. 2010. 16: 179-185.
  10. Otto D, Hudnell H, House D, Molhave L, Counts W. Exposure of humans to a volatile organic mixture in behavioral assessment. Arch Environ Health. 1992. 47: 23-30.
  11. Poirier M, Fournier M, Brousseau P, Morin A. Effects of volatile aromatics, aldehydes and phenols in tobacco smoke on viability and proliferation of mouse lymphocytes. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2002. 65: 1437-1451.
  12. Schrenk D, Orzechowski A, Snyder R, Burchell B, Ingelman- Sundberg M, Bock KW. Phase II metabolism of benzene. Environ Health Perspect. 1996. 104: 1183-1188.
  13. Synder R. Benzene and leukemia. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2002. 32: 155 -210.
  14. Thorn A. The sick building syndrome, a diagnostic dilemma. Soc Sci Med. 1998. 47: 1307-1312.
  15. Yang EJ, Kim IS. The effects of volatile organic compounds on apoptosis of human neutrophils and eosinophils. J Exp Biomed Sci. 2010. 16: 123-126.