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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Immunology - Pathology - Public Health and Epidemiology - Respiratory Medicine

Pulmonary Toxicity and Adjuvant Effect of Di-(2-exylhexyl) Phthalate in Ovalbumin-Immunized BALB/c Mice
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Author: Jing Guo et al.

by Jing Guo, Bing Han, Longjuan Qin, Bing Li, Huihui You, Jiwen Yang, Dandan Liu, Chenxi Wei, Eewa Nanberg, Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, Xu Yang


Asthma is a complex pulmonary inflammatory disease, which is characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness, variable airflow obstruction and inflammation in the airways. The majority of asthma is allergic asthma, which is a disease caused by type I hypersensitivity mediated by IgE. Exposures to a number of environmental chemicals are suspected to lead to asthma, one such pollutant is di-(2-ethylheyl) phthalate (DEHP). DEHP is a manufactured chemical that is commonly added in plastic products to make them flexible. Epidemiological studies have revealed a positive association between DEHP exposure and asthma prevalence.

Methodology/Principal Findings

The present study was aimed to determine the underlying role of DEHP exposure in airway reactivity, especially when combined with allergen exposure. The biomarkers include pulmonary histopathology, airway hyperresponsiveness (lung function), IgE, IL-4, IFN-? and eosinophils. Healthy balb/c mice were randomly divided into eight exposure groups (n?=?8 each): (1) saline control, (2) 30 µg/(kg•d) DEHP, (3) 300 µg/(kg•d) DEHP, (4) 3000 µg/(kg•d) DEHP, and (5) ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized group, (6) OVA-combined with 30 µg/(kg•d) DEHP, (7) OVA-combined with 300 µg/(kg•d) DEHP, and (8) OVA-combined with 3000 µg/(kg•d) DEHP. Experimental tests were conducted after 52-day DEHP exposure and subsequently one week of challenge with aerosolized OVA. The principal findings include: (1) Strong postive associations exist between OVA-combined DEHP exposure and serum total IgE (T-IgE), as well as histological findings. These positive associations show a dose-dependent low dose sensitive effect of DEHP. (2) IL-4, eosinophil recruitment and lung function are also indicators for adjuvant effect of DEHP.


Our results suggest that except the significant changes of immunological and inflammatory biomarkers (T-IgE, IL-4, IFN-? and eosinophils), the pulmonary histological (histopathological examination) and physiological (lung function) data also support that DEHP may promote and aggravate allergic asthma by adjuvant effect.