In vitro cytokine release from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in the assessment of the immunotoxic potential of chemicals

Solvor B. Stolevik*, U.C. Nygaard, E. Namork, B. Granum, A. Pellerud, D. M. van Leeuwen, H. Gmuender, J. H. M. van Delft, H. van Loveren, M. Lovik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Alternative methods to the use of animals in testing of chemicals are needed. We investigated if the immunotoxic potential of 12 dietary toxicants could be predicted from effects on cytokine release from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) after in vitro exposure. Nine cytokines were selected to reflect different types of immune responses. The toxicants were classified as immunotoxic or nonimmunotoxic substances according to the published in vivo data. Isolated human PBMC were exposed for 20 h to three concentrations of each of the 12 substances in the presence of human liver S9 fraction. After further incubation of PBMC in fresh medium containing the mitogen phytohemagglutinin (PHA, 10 mu g/ml) for 48 h, release of the nine selected cytokines into the supernatant as well as cell proliferation were measured by Luminex technology (TM), and the BrdU incorporation assay, respectively. All 12 substances investigated affected the release of one or more cytokines, and each of the substances showed different cytokine release patterns. Within the limitations of the study design, the present study suggests that the effect of the substances on mitogen-induced cytokine release from PBMC cannot predict their immunotoxic potential, but may be useful in mechanistic studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-562
JournalToxicology in Vitro
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Immunotoxicity
  • In vitro
  • Cytokines
  • Cell proliferation
  • Peripheral blood mononuclear cells
  • Alternative methods

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