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Toxicol Lett. 2013 Nov 25;223(2):154-61. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.09.008. Epub 2013 Sep 20.

Formaldehyde exposure impairs the function and differentiation of NK cells.

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School of Biological Sciences and Technology, Chonnam National University, Gwangju 500-757, South Korea.


We investigated the cytotoxic effects of formaldehyde (FA) on lymphocytes. FA-exposed mice showed a profound reduction not only in the number of natural killer (NK) cells but also in the expression of NK cell-specific receptors, but these mice did not exhibit decreases in the numbers of T or B lymphocytes. FA exposure also induced decreases in NK cytolytic activity and in the expression of NK cell-associated genes, such as IFN-γ, perforin and CD122. To determine the effect of FA on tumorigenicity, C57BL/6 mice were subcutaneously injected with B16F10 melanoma cells after FA exposure. The mass of the B16F10 tumor and the concentration of extravascular polymorphonuclear leukocytes were greater than those in unexposed tumor-bearing control mice. The number and cytolytic activity of NK cells were also reduced in B16F10 tumor-bearing mice exposed to FA. To determine how FA reduces the NK cell number, NK precursor (pNK) cells were treated with FA, and the differentiation status of the NK cells was analyzed. NK cell differentiation was impaired by FA treatment in a concentration-dependent manner. These findings indicate that FA exposure may promote tumor progression by impairing NK cell function and differentiation.


BALF; BM; Differentiation; FA; Formaldehyde; HSCs; IFN-γ; LPS; NK cell; NK precursor; Natural killer cell; bone marrow; bronchoalveolar lavage fluid; formaldehyde; hematopoietic stem cells; interferon-γ; lipopolysaccharide; mNK; mature NK; natural killer cell; pNK

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