N-acetylcysteine attenuates hexavalent chromium-induced hypersensitivity through inhibition of cell death, ROS-related signaling and cytokine expression

Yu Hsuan Lee, Shih Bin Su, Chien Cheng Huang, Hamm Ming Sheu, Jui Chen Tsai, Chia Ho Lin, Ying Jan Wang, Bour Jr Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


Chromium hypersensitivity (chromium-induced allergic contact dermatitis) is an important issue in occupational skin disease. Hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)) can activate the Akt, Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), and Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways and induce cell death, via the effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Recently, cell death stimuli have been proposed to regulate the release of inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1). However, the exact effects of ROS on the signaling molecules and cytotoxicity involved in Cr(VI)-induced hypersensitivityhave not yet been fully demonstrated. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) could increase glutathione levels in the skin and act as an antioxidant. In this study, we investigated the effects of NAC on attenuating the Cr(VI)-triggered ROS signaling in both normal keratinocyte cells (HaCaT cells) and a guinea pig (GP) model. The results showed the induction of apoptosis, autophagy and ROS were observed after different concentrations of Cr(VI) treatment. HaCaT cells pretreated with NAC exhibited a decrease in apoptosis and autophagy, which could affect cell viability. In addition, Cr (VI) activated the Akt, NFκB and MAPK pathways thereby increasing IL-1α and TNF-α production. However, all of these stimulation phenomena could be inhibited by NAC in both of in vitro and in vivo studies. These novel findings indicate that NAC may prevent the development of chromium hypersensitivity by inhibiting of ROS-induced cell death and cytokine expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere108317
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sep 23


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this