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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2011 Jan-Mar;24(1 Suppl):5S-10S.

Suppressive effect of asbestos on cytotoxicity of human NK cells.

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Department of Hygiene, Kawasaki Medical School, Kurashiki, Japan.


Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral, causes malignant mesothelioma (MM). However, it takes a very long time to develop MM, which suggests that effects other than tumorigenicity of asbestos might contribute to the development of MM, and one of the possible targets is anti-tumor immunity. Therefore, we examined the effect of asbestos exposure on human natural killer (NK) cells using the cell line of YT-A1, Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) cultures and specimens from patients with MM. In particular, we focused on expression of NK cell-activating receptors, including NKG2D, 2B4 and NKp46. Analysis of the YT-CB5 subline of YT-A1, cultured with CB for over 5 months, showed a decrease in cytotoxicity with low expressions of NKG2D and 2B4, although there were no decreases after about one month. YT-CB5 showed decreases in phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and degranulation stimulated by antibodies to NKG2D. Peripheral blood (PB-) NK cells from MM patients also showed decreased cytotoxicity compared with healthy volunteers (HV), and was accompanied with low expression of NKp46 unlike YT-CB5. PBMCs cultured with CB resulted in decreased expression of NKp46 on NK cells, although this did not occur when using glass wool, an asbestos substitute. These results indicate that asbestos has the potential to suppress cytotoxicity of NK cells. In particular, it is noteworthy that both NK cells from MM patients and those from a culture of PBMCs derived from HVs with asbestos showed the same characteristic of decreased cytotoxicity with low expression of NKp46.

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