Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, has been proposed as a biomarker for environmental contaminant effects. In this work, we test the hypothesis that in vitro assays of apoptosis are sensitive indicators of immunological effects of polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorocyclohexanes, and mercury on human neutrophils. Apoptosis, necrosis, and viability as well as the related indicators F-actin levels, and active thiol state were measured in purified human neutrophils after treatment with contaminants. Effective concentrations observed were 0.3 ??M (60 ??g/L) mercury, 750 ??g/L Aroclor 1254, and 50 ??M (14,500 ??g/L) hexachlorocylcohexanes. Concentrations of contaminants that induced apoptosis also decreased cellular F-actin levels. Active thiols were altered by mercury, but not organochlorines. Comparison of these data with levels of contaminants reported to be threats to human health indicate neutrophil apoptosis is a sensitive indicator of mercury toxicity.
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Effects of polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorocyclohexanes, and mercury on human neutrophil apoptosis, actin cytoskelton, and oxidative state