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Pentachlorophenol (PCP) and Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) are environmental contaminants found in human blood. Previous studies have shown that PCP and DDT inhibit the lytic function of highly purified human natural killer (NK) lymphocytes and decrease the expression of several surface proteins on NK cells. Interleukin-1 βeta (IL-1β) is a cytokine produced by lymphocytes and monocytes, and anything that elevates its levels inappropriately can lead to chronic inflammation, which among other consequences can increase tumor development and invasiveness. Here, PCP and DDT were examined for their ability to alter secretion of IL-1β from immune cell preparations of various complexity: NK cells; monocyte-depleted (MD) peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCS); and PBMCs. Cells were exposed to concentrations of PCP ranging from 5 to 0.05 µM and DDT concentrations of 2.5–0.025 μM for 24, 48 h, and 6 days. Results showed that both PCP and DDT increased IL-1β secretion from all of the immune cell preparations. The specific concentrations of PCP and DDT that increased IL-1β secretion varied by donor. Immune cells from all donors showed compound-induced increases in IL-1β secretion at one or more concentration at one or more length of exposure. The mechanism of PCP stimulation of IL1-β secretion was also addressed, and it appears that the MAPKs, ERK1/2 and p38, may be utilized by PCP to stimulate secretion of IL-1β.

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