Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Potential Immunotoxic Effect of Thimerosal: Compound Alters Dendritic Cell Response in Vitro

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Potential Immunotoxic Effect of Thimerosal: Compound Alters Dendritic Cell Response in Vitro

Article excerpt

Thimerosal, an ethylmercury-based compound used for decades as a vaccine preservative, has previously been linked to neurotoxic effects. New research reveals that it may also affect the immune system by altering how dendritic cells respond to biochemical signals [EHP 114:1083-1091; Goth et al.].

Dendritic cells are influential primary actors in the immune system's response to infectious invasion of the body. Once activated, a single dendritic cell can direct hundreds of T cells against an infectious agent. This ability, however, depends on the dendritic cell responding appropriately to signals.

Previous studies by other researchers have indicated that thimerosal is an immunotoxicant, but its specific targets were unknown. Hypothesizing that dendritic cells might be sensitive targets, the researchers cultured bone marrow-derived dendritic cells from mice and assayed how both mature and immature cells responded to activation following treatment with thimerosal. They especially focused on the responses of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate and ryanodine receptors (I[P.sub.3]R and RyR, respectively), which are known thimerosal targets. These gatekeepers of intracellular calcium stores are essential for signaling activities affecting dendritic cell function and maturation.

The team showed for the first time that both mature and immature dendritic cells express isoforms of these receptors, I[P. …

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