Enhancing the Nrf2 Antioxidant Signaling Provides Protection Against Trichloroethene-mediated Inflammation and Autoimmune Response

Nivedita Banerjee, Hui Wang, Gangduo Wang, M. Firoze Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Trichloroethene (trichloroethylene, TCE) and one of its reactive metabolites dichloroacetyl chloride (DCAC) are associated with the induction of autoimmunity in MRL+/+ mice. Although oxidative stress plays a major role in TCE-/DCAC-mediated autoimmunity, the underlying molecular mechanisms still need to be delineated. Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like2 (Nrf2) is an oxidative stress-responsive transcription factor that binds to antioxidant responsive element (ARE) and provides protection by regulating cytoprotective and antioxidant gene expression. However, the potential of Nrf2 in the regulation of TCE-/DCAC-mediated autoimmunity is not known. This study thus focused on establishing the role of Nrf2 and consequent inflammatory responses in TCE-/DCAC-mediated autoimmunity. To achieve this, we pretreated Kupffer cells (KCs) or T cells with/without tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) followed by treatment with DCAC. In both KCs and T cells, DCAC treatment significantly downregulated Nrf2 and HO-1 expression along with induction of Keap-1 and caspase-3, NF-κB (p65), TNF-α, and iNOS, whereas pretreatment of these cells with tBHQ attenuated these responses. The in vitro findings were further verified in vivo by treating female MRL+/+ mice with TCE along with/without sulforaphane. TCE exposure in mice also led to reduction in Nrf2 and HO-1 but increased phospho-NF-κB (p-p65) and iNOS along with increased anti-dsDNA antibodies. Interestingly, sulforaphane treatment led to amelioration of TCE-mediated effects, resulting in Nrf2 activation and reduction in inflammatory and autoimmune responses. Our results show that TCE/DCAC mediates an impairment in Nrf2 regulation. Attenuation of TCE-mediated autoimmunity via activation of Nrf2 supports that antioxidants sulforaphane/tBHQ could be potential therapeutic agents for autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Nrf2
  • autoimmunity
  • dichloroacetyl chloride
  • trichloroethene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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