The pneumotoxicant paraquat induces IL-8 mRNA in human mononuclear cells and pulmonary epithelial cells

Marina Bianchi, Giamila Fantuzzi, Riccardo Bertini, Lianna Perin, Mario Salmona, Pietro Ghezzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paraquat (PQ) is a herbicide which is highly pneumotoxic by generating reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI). Pro-inflammatory cytokines, particularly IL-1 and TNF, have been implicated in some ROI-mediated pathologies, including bleomycin toxicity and ischaemia/reperfusion injury. We have studied the effect of PQ on the expression of the neutrophil chemotactic cytokine, IL-8, by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). While almost no IL-8 mRNA was detected in unstimulated cells, PQ (100 μM) induced high mRNA expression with a maximum at 24 h of incubation. While PQ did stimulate the appearance of IL-8 mRNA, no significant production of IL-8 protein was detected. However, PQ potentiated the production of IL-8 in the presence of 1 ng/ml of endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS). This was paralleled by an increased production of chemotactic activity for neutrophils, indicating that the IL-8 was actually bioactive. Stimulation of IL-8 mRNA by PQ was suppressed by IL-4 and by free radical scavengers (dimethylsulfoxide, mannitol). Increased IL-8 expression by PQ was also observed in the human pulmonary epithelial cell line A549 indicating that the effect of PQ was not specific for PBMC. These findings suggest that IL-8 might be involved in the pulmonary effects of PQ and that its production might be stimulated following an oxidative insult, and might clarify the pathogenetic mechanisms of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or oxidant-induced pulmonary fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-530
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • IL-4
  • IL-8
  • oxidants
  • Paraquat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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