, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 784–794 | Cite as

Effect of Atmospheric PM2.5 on Expression Levels of NF-κB Genes and Inflammatory Cytokines Regulated by NF-κB in Human Macrophage

  • Yuezhu Zhang
  • Shuyue Wang
  • Jian Zhu
  • Chunyan Li
  • Tianrong Zhang
  • Hongbo Liu
  • Qi Xu
  • Xiaofang Ye
  • Liting Zhou
  • Lin Ye


Exposure to PM2.5 induces systemic inflammation, and the NF-κB signaling pathway plays an important role in the inflammation process. We aim to clarify whether the expression of NF-κB gene family affects inflammation caused by PM2.5. Human monocytic cells (THP-1) were induced to differentiate into macrophages using phorbol myristate acetate. The macrophages were then treated with 100, 200, and 400 μg/ml of PM2.5 for 12, 24, and 48 h, respectively. Then, we determined the survival rate of macrophages through the MTT assay. The TNF-α and CRP levels in the cell culture medium were measured through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The NF-κB1, NF-κB2, RelA, RelB, and Rel mRNA levels in macrophages were measured with reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. As a consequence, the survival rate of macrophages decreased with increasing PM2.5 exposure time and dose. The TNF-α levels in PM2.5-treated groups were lower as compared with the control group and in contrast to the NF-κB mRNA levels at all exposure times. The TNF-α level in the 400-μg/ml group and the NF-κB1, NF-κB2, RelB, and Rel mRNA levels in all PM2.5-treated groups were found to be higher at 24 h than at 12 h. Furthermore, the TNF-α, CRP, and NF-κB2 mRNA levels in the group treated with 400 μg/ml PM2.5 were higher at 48 h that at 12 and 24 h. On the other hand, the NF-κB1, RelA, RelB, and Rel mRNA levels in all PM2.5-treated groups were lower as compared to levels of TNF-α, CRP, and NF-κB2 mRNA. The levels of NF-κB genes and inflammatory cytokines demonstrated different correlations at different exposure times. Therefore, we conclude that PM2.5 reduces the survival rate of macrophages. As macrophages are exposed to PM2.5, the NF-κB gene family expression is increased, which subsequently affects inflammatory factor levels.


PM2.5 cytotoxicity NF-κB inflammatory cytokines 



This work was sponsored by the Natural Science Foundation of Department of Science and Technology of Jilin Province (20150101208JC), Medical Research Support Plan of Norman Bethune Health Science Center (2013102010), and Shanghai Key Laboratory of Meteorology and Health (QXJK201506). We would like to acknowledge the Animal Resources Centre for animal technical support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuezhu Zhang
    • 1
  • Shuyue Wang
    • 2
  • Jian Zhu
    • 1
  • Chunyan Li
    • 1
  • Tianrong Zhang
    • 1
  • Hongbo Liu
    • 1
  • Qi Xu
    • 1
  • Xiaofang Ye
    • 3
  • Liting Zhou
    • 1
    • 4
  • Lin Ye
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public HealthJilin UniversityChangchunChina
  2. 2.Department of Emergency, China-Japan Union HospitalJilin UniversityChangchunChina
  3. 3.Shanghai Key Laboratory of Meteorology and HealthShanghaiChina
  4. 4.ChangchunChina

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