The influence of metals on the expression of surface antigens on human lymphocytes in vitro.

OBJECTIVES: Metals have different effects on the immune functions. Through the experimental in vitro model, we studied the changes in the activation and co-stimulatory surface markers in human lymphocytes cultivated with selected metal salts.

METHODS: Whole human blood was cultivated with cadmium (Cd) or zinc (Zn) sulfate for 18 hours. The number of lymphocytes positive for activation and co-stimulatory markers was evaluated by flow cytometry.

RESULTS: Elevation of the CD69 and CD23 markers as well as higher expression of CD28 was found in cultures of lymphocytes incubated with Cd. In cultures incubated with Zn, minor elevation of the HLA-DR antigen expression was observed in comparison to Cd-treated cell cultures. Decrease of CD3 expression was observed after cultivation with both Cd and Zn salts.

CONCLUSION: Cd and Zn exhibit different effects on the expression of human surface activation antigens and co-stimulatory molecules. Cd in non-toxic concentrations stimulated expression of early activation molecules and therefore could change the early phase of immune response. This was not the case for Zn, where the results were similar to untreated cell cultures.

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