Research for the Environment

Effect of Volatile Organic Compounds on the protein expression of Human immune cells

Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is a major occupational and environmental health concern. Inhalation of VOCs can cause a wide range of adverse health effects, ranging from simple irritation to systemic diseases. It has been shown that VOCs could also influence immune system. Despite significant achievements in the risk assessment of VOCs, the toxicological assessment model, remains limited, particularly for studying the effect of VOCs on immune system.

The procedure to obtain high-resolution 2D gels has been established with protein extracts from Jurkat T cells. Alterations of the protein expression of unstimulated and stimulated Jurkat cells were being carried out upon the exposure of sublethal concentrations of benzo (a) pyrene, a well documented polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon linked to cancer.

For validation of the results from the cellular model T cells will be differientiated from isoltatd PBMCs. The PBMC will be purified by using a cell purification kit from Milteny Biotec. This procedure allows a purity of human T cells with more than 95% purity.

2D gel of jurkat unstimulated cells

Figure 2D gel of unstimulated human Jurkat T cells


It is very important to unravel the network of proteins and the pathways involved to identify the early candidate, which can act as an indicator for the onset of the toxic effect of VOCs on the cell. Thus a list of up and down regulated proteins is further used to investigate the direct relationship between the proteins, their relationship with the pathways of the cells and their interacting nature using the online databases MINT, STRING and IntAct. Reactome and KEGG databases are used to understand the involvement of these proteins in the different metabolic and signaling pathways of the cell. Validation of the protein interaction data is carried out with the software, Pathwaystudio, which derives the information from the experimental and literature evidences from the available databases

The study is carried out in close cooperation with the Department of Environmental Immunology.