Tris(2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBEP) is a major organophosphorus flame retardant and has been widely increasing as a substitute for brominated flame retardants. TBEP may have adverse effects on human health; however, its impact on immune and allergic responses remains largely uncharacterized. In this study, the effects of low-dose TBEP comparable with the level of actual human exposure to that of human tolerable daily intake on allergic asthmatic mice were explored. Five-week-old C3H/HeJSlc male mice consumed a diet containing approximately 0.02, 0.2 or 2 μg/kg/day TBEP and were intratracheally administrated ovalbumin (OVA) (1 μg/mouse every 2 weeks from 5 to 11 weeks of age). Exposure to 2 μg/kg/day TBEP with OVA tended to enhance allergic pulmonary inflammation and significantly elevated mRNA levels of interleukin-5, eotaxin-1 and estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) compared with OVA alone. In mediastinal lymph nodes (MLNs), TBEP (0.2 or 2 μg/kg/day) with OVA significantly increased in total cell number and promoted conventional dendritic cell activation than OVA alone; MLN cell proliferation by OVA restimulation was also enhanced in these groups. In the bone marrow (BM), TBEP (0.02 or 0.2 μg/kg/day) with OVA resulted in a net decrease in total cell number and fraction of CCR2 Gr-1 cells; the fraction of Gr-1 cells increased. In conclusion, oral exposure to low-dose TBEP levels equivalent to tolerable daily intake may exacerbate allergic pulmonary inflammation by promoting a skewed T-helper 2 cell response, upregulation of ERα and dysregulation of both MLN and BM microenvironments.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.