The by-products generated during sarin synthesis in the Tokyo sarin disaster induced inhibition of natural killer and cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity.

PMID 10814853


More than 5000 passengers on Tokyo subway trains were injured by the nerve gas, sarin and its by-products. Analysis of phosphor-carrying metabolites of sarin and its by-products in urine samples from the victims suggested that they were exposed not only to sarin, but also by-products generated during sarin synthesis, i.e. diisopropyl methylphosphonate (DIMP) and diethyl methylphosphonate (DEMP). We suspected genetic after-effects due to sarin by-products, thus, we checked the frequency of sister chromatid exchange (SCE) and found that SCE was significantly higher in the victims than in a control group, and that DIMP and DEMP significantly induced human lymphocyte SCE in vitro. In the present study, to explore whether DIMP and DEMP, which induced a high frequency of SCE of lymphocytes, also affected the lymphocyte functions, we examined the effect of DIMP and DEMP on splenic natural killer (NK) and splenic cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activity in mice, and NK activity of human lymphocytes in vitro. We found that DIMP and DEMP significantly inhibited NK and CTL activity in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibition induced by DIMP was stronger than that by DEMP. The effect of DIMP and DEMP on the splenic NK activity of mice was stronger than on the splenic CTL activity, and the human lymphocytes is more sensitive to DIMP and DEMP than the splenocytes of mice.

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Diethyl methylphosphonate, 97%