Background: Some chemical compounds in the environment worsen allergic inflammation. In this study, we examined whether organic solvents induce the production of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) which elicits Th2-type immune responses. Methods: Organic solvents were painted on the earlobes of BALB/c mice. The expression of TSLP in the ear was determined by ELISA. Results: Xylene and toluene, but not chloroform or ethyl acetate, induced the expression of mRNA for TSLP in the earlobe tissue. Among the aromatic compounds, xylene, especially m-xylene, and trimethylbenzene caused apparent TSLP production. The level of TSLP in the xylene-treated earlobes reached a maximum at 24 h, and TSLP was expressed in epithelial tissues. Production of TSLP was unaffected in mast cell-deficient W/W v mice but apparently diminished in TNF-α knockout mice and IL-4 receptor knockout mice. Repeated painting of xylene for 7 days induced an increase in the weight of cervical lymph nodes and expression of OX40 ligand, both of which were inhibited in TSLP receptor knockout mice. Xylene promoted the picryl chloride-induced thickening of the ear and IL-4 production, which were reversed in TSLP receptor knockout mice. Conclusion: Xylene induced TSLP production, resulting in an exacerbation of allergic inflammation. Thus, xylene might be a good tool for examining the roles of TSLP in eliciting allergy in experimental animals.
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