Tumor necrosis factor-α mediates interactions between macrophages and epithelial cells underlying proinflammatory gene expression induced by particulate matter.
ABSTRACT Ambient particulate matter (PM) exposure is known to have adverse effects on respiratory health, but the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. We tested the hypothesis that macrophages and epithelial cells synergize to produce maximal cytokine release in response to PM exposure, thereby promoting inflammatory responses. We developed a co-culture model using MLE-12 (mouse lung epithelial) cells and RAW 264.7 (mouse monocyte/macrophage) cells. MLE-12 cells produced KC (Cxcl1) but not tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF), and KC was upregulated only at high levels of urban particulate matter (UPM; NIST 1648a). RAW 264.7 cells produced TNF but not KC, and TNF production was increased by treatment with UPM. In contrast, KC production was upregulated by co-culture of MLE-12 and RAW 264.7 cells, and it was further increased by treatment with a concentration of UPM that had no effect on MLE-12 cells alone. Multiplex cytokine assay revealed a similar pattern of synergistic production of MIG (Cxcl9) and IP-10 (Cxcl10) in co-cultures in response to UPM. TNF was implicated as mediating the synergistic increase in KC production because TNF upregulated KC production in MLE-12 cells, and UPM-induced KC production in co-cultures could be inhibited by a TNF blocking antibody. Intratracheal instillation of UPM into both wild-type and TNF receptor knockout mice resulted in increased TNF production in lavage fluid and increased TNF mRNA expression in cells recovered from lavage fluid. Additionally, UPM instillation into wild-type mice resulted in increased neutrophils and KC in lavage fluid, and these were inhibited in UPM-exposed TNF receptor knockout mice. These results are consistent with a model in which PM activates TNF production in macrophages which in turn stimulates epithelial cells to produce proinflammatory cytokines such as KC. The findings suggest a potential mechanism by which inhaled PM induces inflammation in the lung.