In vitro exposure to the herbicide atrazine inhibits T cell activation, proliferation, and cytokine production and significantly increases the frequency of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells

Lindsay E. Thueson, Tiffany R. Emmons, Dianna L. Browning, Joanna M. Kreitinger, David M. Shepherd, Scott A. Wetzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The herbicide atrazine (2-chloro-4-[ethylamino]-6-[isopropylamino]-s-triazine) is the most common water contaminant in the United States. Atrazine is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor and is classified as an estrogen disrupting compound because it elevates estrogen levels via induction of the enzyme aromatase. Previous studies have shown that atrazine exposure alters the function of innate immune cells such as NK cells, DC, mast cells, and macrophages. In this study we have examined the impact of in vitro atrazine exposure on the activation, proliferation, and effector cytokine production by primary murine CD4+ T lymphocytes.We found that atrazine exposure significantly inhibited CD4+ T cell proliferation and accumulation as well as the expression of the activationmarkers CD25 and CD69 in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, the effects weremore pronounced in cells from male animals. These effects were partiallymimicked by pharmacological reagents that elevate intracellular cAMP levels and addition of exogenous rmIL-2 further inhibited proliferation and CD25 expression. Consistent with these findings, atrazine exposure during T cell activation resulted in a 2- to 5-fold increase in the frequency of Foxp3+ CD4+ T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-429
Number of pages12
JournalToxicological Sciences
Volume143
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

Keywords

  • Atrazine
  • CD4 T cell
  • Foxp3
  • Regulatory T cells
  • cAMP

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