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Original article
Alteration of Th1/Th2/Th17 cytokine profile and humoral immune responses associated with chromate exposure
  1. Qin Qian1,
  2. Ping Li1,
  3. Tiancheng Wang2,
  4. Ji Zhang3,
  5. Shanfa Yu4,
  6. Tian Chen1,
  7. Lei Yan1,
  8. Yanshuang Song1,
  9. Xiaohua Liu1,
  10. Yongen Gu1,
  11. Yun Wang1,
  12. Guang Jia1
  1. 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Science, School of Public Health, Peking University, Beijing, P. R. China
  2. 2Department of Clinical Laboratory, 3rd Hospital Affiliated to Peking University, Beijing, P. R. China
  3. 3Department of the Evaluation of Occupitional and Environmetal Health, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Jinan, Shandong Province, P. R. China
  4. 4Henan Institute of Occupational Medicine, Zhengzhou, Henan Province, P. R. China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Guang Jia, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, Peking University, Beijing 100191, P. R. China; jiaguangjia{at}


Background The role of chromate exposure in the deregulation of total lymphocyte and other immune factors is largely unclear.

Objectives We aimed to examine alteration of the Th1/Th2/Th17 cytokine profile and humoral indicators caused by occupational chromate exposure.

Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted in two similar workshops (groups 1 and 2) with 106 male occupational workers and 50 matched local controls. Environmental and biological exposures were assessed by measuring chromium concentrations in workplace air, and in whole blood and urine samples of the workers. Cytokines in serum (IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-17A) were determined by CBA assay, while immunoglobin (IgA, IgM, IgG, IgE) and complement (C3, C4) were evaluated by immunonephelometric and ELISA methods. Micronucleus analysis was also used to explore the relationship between genotoxicity and immunotoxicity.

Results Compared with the control group, environmental chromate exposure in groups 1 and 2 was much higher, and the mean values of IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ, IL-17A and IFN-γ/IL-4 were significantly decreased in group 1. In group 2, IgA and IgG levels were reduced, while C3 and C4 were increased. Levels of IFN-γ, IgG and IgA were all inversely associated with whole blood chromium, while C3 and C4 were positively associated with whole blood chromium (p<0.05). Both IL-10 and IL-17A were inversely associated with urine chromium. Correlations were also found between IL-10, IL-17A and micronucleus (r=−0.329, r=−0.312, respectively).

Conclusions Occupational exposure to chromate could downregulate the cellular and humoral factors of the immune system.

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