PM2.5-induced oxidative stress increases intercellular adhesion molecule-1 expression in lung epithelial cells through the IL-6/AKT/STAT3/NF-ΚB-dependent pathway

Chen Wei Liu, Tzu Lin Lee, Yu Chen Chen, Chan Jung Liang, Shu Huei Wang, June Horng Lue, Jaw Shiun Tsai, Shih Wei Lee, Shun Hua Chen, Yi Fan Yang, Tzu Yi Chuang, Yuh Lien Chen

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81 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Epidemiological studies have shown that ambient air pollution is closely associated with increased respiratory inflammation and decreased lung function. Particulate matters (PMs) are major components of air pollution that damages lung cells. However, the mechanisms remain to be elucidated. This study examines the effects of PMs on intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression and the related mechanisms in vitro and in vivo. Result: The cytotoxicity, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and monocyte adherence to A549 cells were more severely affected by treatment with O-PMs (organic solvent-extractable fraction of SRM1649b) than with W-PMs (water-soluble fraction of SRM1649b). We observed a significant increase in ICAM-1 expression by O-PMs, but not W-PMs. O-PMs also induced the phosphorylation of AKT, p65, and STAT3. Pretreating A549 cells with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, attenuated O-PMs-induced ROS generation, the phosphorylation of the mentioned kinases, and the expression of ICAM-1. Furthermore, an AKT inhibitor (LY294002), NF-ΚB inhibitor (BAY11-7082), and STAT3 inhibitor (Stattic) significantly down-regulated O-PMs-induced ICAM-1 expression as well as the adhesion of U937 cells to epithelial cells. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) was the most significantly changed cytokine in O-PMs-treated A549 cells according to the analysis of the cytokine antibody array. The IL-6 receptor inhibitor tocilizumab (TCZ) and small interfering RNA for IL-6 significantly reduced ICAM-1 secretion and expression as well as the reduction of the AKT, p65, and STAT3 phosphorylation in O-PMs-treated A549 cells. In addition, the intratracheal instillation of PMs significantly increased the levels of the ICAM-1 and IL-6 in lung tissues and plasma in WT mice, but not in IL-6 knockout mice. Pre-administration of NAC attenuated those PMs-induced adverse effects in WT mice. Furthermore, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) had higher plasma levels of ICAM-1 and IL-6 compared to healthy subjects. Conclusion: These results suggest that PMs increase ICAM-1 expression in pulmonary epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo through the IL-6/AKT/STAT3/NF-ΚB signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 12

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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