In vitro inflammatory effects of polyhexamethylene biguanide through NF-κB activation in A549 cells

Ha Ryong Kim, Da Young Shin, Kyu Hyuck Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) is a member of the polymeric guanidine family, which is used as a biocide and preservative in industrial, medicinal, and consumer products. Some studies reported that polyhexamethylene guanidine phosphate, which is also a member of the guanidine family, induced severe inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs. However, limited studies have evaluated the pulmonary toxicity of PHMB associated with inflammatory responses. The aim of this study was to elucidate the inflammatory responses and its mechanisms induced by PHMB in lung cells. A549 cells exposed to PHMB showed decreased viability, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, inflammatory cytokine secretion, and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activation. The cells showed dose-dependent cytotoxicity and slight generation of ROS. PHMB triggered inflammatory cytokine secretion and NF-κB activation by modulating the degradation of IκB-α and the accumulation of nuclear p65. TNF-α plays important roles in IL-8 expression as well as NF-κB activation. Moreover, IL-8 production induced by PHMB was completely suppressed by a NF-κB inhibitor, but not by a ROS scavenger. In conclusion, we suggest that PHMB induces the inflammatory responses via the NF-κB signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology in Vitro
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1


  • Inflammation
  • Nuclear factor kappa B
  • Polyhexamethylene biguanide
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Tumor necrosis factor alpha

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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