Macrophage TNF-α mediates parathion-induced airway hyperreactivity in guinea pigs

Becky J. Proskocil, Donald A. Bruun, David B. Jacoby, Nico van Rooijen, Pamela J. Lein, Allison D. Fryer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) are implicated in human asthma. We previously demonstrated that, at concentrations that do not inhibit acetylcholinesterase activity, the OP parathion causes airway hyperreactivity in guinea pigs as a result of functional loss of inhibitory M2 muscarinic receptors on parasympathetic nerves. Because macrophages are associated with asthma, we investigated whether macrophages mediate parathion-induced M2 receptor dysfunction and airway hyperreactivity. Airway physiology was measured in guinea pigs 24 h after a subcutaneous injection of parathion. Pretreatment with liposome-encapsulated clodronate induced alveolar macrophage apoptosis and prevented parathion-induced airway hyperreactivity in response to electrical stimulation of the vagus nerves. As determined by qPCR, TNF-α and IL-1β mRNA levels were increased in alveolar macrophages isolated from parathion-treated guinea pigs. Parathion treatment of alveolar macrophages ex vivo did not significantly increase IL-1β and TNF-α mRNA but did significantly increase TNF-α protein release. Consistent with these data, pretreatment with the TNF-α inhibitor etanercept but not the IL-1β receptor inhibitor anakinra prevented parathion-induced airway hyperreactivity and protected M2 receptor function. These data suggest a novel mechanism of OP-induced airway hyperreactivity in which low-level parathion activates macrophages to release TNF-α-causing M2 receptor dysfunction and airway hyperreactivity. These observations have important implications regarding therapeutic approaches for treating respiratory disease associated with OP exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L519-L529
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013


  • Airway Hyperreactivity
  • Alveolar macrophages
  • Organophosphorus pesticides
  • Parathion
  • Tumor necrosis factor-a

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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