Human natural killer (NK) lymphocytes are able to destroy tumor cells and virally-infected cells. Interference with their function can leave an individual with increased susceptibility to cancer development and/or viral infection. We have shown that the tumor-destroying (lytic) function of NK cells can be dramatically decreased by exposure to the environmental contaminant tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA). TBBPA is a flame retardant used in a variety of materials including circuit boards, carpeting, and upholstery and has been found in human blood samples. TBBPA interferes with NK cell lytic function, in part, by decreasing the ability of NK cells to bind to target cells. This study examines the effects of exposures to concentrations of TBBPA (i.e., that were able to decrease the binding capacity of NK cells) on the expression of cell-surface proteins (CD2, CD11a, CD16, CD18, and CD56) that are needed for NK cells to bind target cells. NK cells were exposed to TBBPA for 24 h, 48 h, and 6 days or for 1 h followed by 24 h, 48 h, and 6 days in TBBPA-free media. Twenty-four-hour exposures to 5 µM TBBPA caused decreases in four of the cell-surface proteins examined. CD16 was decreased by >35%. The decreases in cell-surface proteins after a 48-h exposure were similar to those seen after 24 h. The results indicate that TBBPA exposures that decrease the binding function of human NK cells do so by decreasing the expression of cell-surface proteins needed for attachment of NK cells to targets cells.
Tasia Hurd & Margaret M. Whalen (2011) Tetrabromobisphenol A decreases cell-surface proteins involved in human natural killer (NK) cell–dependent target cell lysis, Journal of Immunotoxicology, 8:3, 219-227, DOI: 10.3109/1547691X.2011.580437