Background Formaldehyde is associated with sick building syndrome (SBS), a set of diffuse and irritative symptoms predominantly involving the eyes and the respiratory tract. However, its pathophysiological mechanism in SBS has not yet been clarified.
Objective In this study we investigated the effect of formaldehyde on the expression of adhesion molecules on human mucosal microvascular endothelial cells (HMMECs). Furthermore, we investigated the effect of formaldehyde on adhesiveness of HMMECs to eosinophils.
Materials and methods HMMECs were incubated with various concentrations of formaldehyde (1 ng/mL−1 µg/mL) for 24 h, and the expressions of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM-1) on HMMECs were evaluated by flow cytometry. The change in the expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 mRNA was then evaluated by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. To understand the role of formaldehyde in eosinophilic inflammation of the nasal mucosa, we examined the effects of formaldehyde on the adhesiveness between HMMECs and eosinophils by eosinophil adhesion assay.
Results Formaldehyde increased the surface expressions of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 on HMMECs. Formaldehyde also induced ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 mRNA. In addition, the adhesiveness between HMMECs and eosinophils was also increased by formaldehyde.
Conclusion These in vitro studies suggest that formaldehyde may play a role as the irritant of the nasal mucosa by increasing the expressions of adhesion molecules on HMMECs and by enhancing the adhesiveness between HMMECs and eosinophils.