Defensins are generally implicated in the quick resistance of epithelial surfaces to microbials; however, recent reports have indicated that defensins also have unknown purposes in relation to noninfectious diseases. In this study, the localization patterns of anti-microbial peptides, β defensins (BDs), in the tracheal epithelium of male C3H mice under exposure to toluene were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Mice were exposed one to ten times to toluene for 30 min by nose-only inhalation. Expression of BDs was revealed by immunohistochemistry in serial sections of trachea after the final exposure. Expression of BD-1 was usually observed at almost the same levels in all exposure groups, and expression of BD-2 was observed in the control group; however, the signals for BD-2 decreased gradually with frequency of exposure. In the group exposed ten times, expression of BD-2 decreased to far lower than that of the control group. No expression of BD-3 was detected in any groups. Interestingly, expression of BD-4 increased to the maximum in the group exposed four times and decreased to a level lower than that of the control in the group exposed ten times. The results of the present study indicated that toluene gas might change the expression pattern of BDs in the tracheal epithelial cells. The oscillation of expression of BD-4 was quite characteristic and might contribute to morphological damage in on the epithelial cells.
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