Effect of Formaldehyde on Human Middle Ear Epithelial Cells

Shin Hye Kim, Ji Woong Choi, Myung Whan Suh, Jun Ho Lee, Seung Ha Oh, Jae-Jun Song, Moo Kyun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Formaldehyde (FA) is a familiar indoor air pollutant found in everything from cosmetics to clothing, but its impact on the middle ear is unknown. This study investigated whether FA causes cytotoxicity, inflammation, or induction of apoptosis in human middle ear epithelial cells (HMEECs). Cell viability was investigated using the trypan blue assay and a cell counting kit (CCK-8) in HMEECs treated with FA for 4 or 24 h. The expression of genes encoding the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and mucin (MUC5AC) was analyzed using RT-PCR. Activation of the apoptosis pathway was determined by measuring mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), cytochrome oxidase, caspase-9/Mch6/Apaf 3, and Caspase-Glo® 3/7 activities. The CCK-8 assay and trypan blue assay results showed a reduction in cell viability in FA-treated HMEECs. FA also increased the cellular expression of TNF-α and MUC5AC and reduced the activities of MMP and cytochrome oxidase. Caspase-9 activity increased in cells stimulated for 4 h, as well as caspase-3/7 activity in cells stimulated for 24 h. The decreased cell viability, the induction of inflammation and mucin gene expression, and the activation of the apoptosis pathway together indicate a link between environmental FA exposure and the development of otitis media.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6387983
JournalBioMed Research International
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

Cite this

Kim, S. H., Choi, J. W., Suh, M. W., Lee, J. H., Oh, S. H., Song, J-J., & Park, M. K. (2018). Effect of Formaldehyde on Human Middle Ear Epithelial Cells. BioMed Research International, 2018, [6387983]. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6387983