Human natural killer (NK) cells are a first-line immune defense against tumor cells and virally-infected cells. If their function is impaired, it leaves an individual more susceptible to cancer development or viral infection. The ability of compounds that contaminate the environment to suppress the function of NK cells could contribute to the increased risk of cancer development. There are a wide spectrum of compounds that significantly contaminate water and food that are consumed by humans, leading to accumulation of some of these compounds in human tissues. In the current study, we examined the ability of three such compounds to diminish the function of human NK cells. Triclosan (TC) is an antimicrobial agent used in a large number of antibacterial soaps. Nonylphenol (NP) is a degradation product of compounds used as surfactants and as stabilizers in plastics. 4,4′-Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is a pesticide that is mainly used to control mosquitoes. The compounds were examined for their ability to suppress NK function following exposures of 1 h, 24 h, 48 h, and 6 days. Each agent was able to substantially decrease NK lytic function within 24 h. At a concentration of 5 µM, both TC and NP inhibited NK lytic function by 87 and 30%, respectively; DDT decreased function by 55% at 2.5 µM. The negative effects of each of these compounds persisted and/or intensified following a brief (1 h) exposure to the compounds, indicating that the impairment of function cannot be eliminated by removal of the compound under in vitro conditions.
Felicia Udoji, Tamara Martin, Rachel Etherton & Margaret M. Whalen (2010) Immunosuppressive effects of triclosan, nonylphenol, and DDT on human natural killer cells in vitro, Journal of Immunotoxicology, 7:3, 205-212, DOI: 10.3109/15476911003667470