Honors Program Theses


Honors Program Thesis (UNI Access Only)

First Advisor

David McClenahan, Honors Thesis Advisor, Biology


Sodium fluorides--Physiological effect; Macrophages;


Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that is added to toothpaste and tap water to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. It has also been suggested that fluoride can even reverse small cavities that are only beginning to form, therefore eliminating the need for dental fillings. For these reasons, it is often also applied topically during dental hygiene appointments. Although the use of fluoride is generally encouraged by most dental professionals, some professionals in other healthassociated fields warn that high concentrations of fluoride can have potentially detrimental health effects by impairing the physiological functions of various body systems. This emphasizes the need to not only be cautious about the amount of fluoride used to prevent tooth decay, but also to further research on discovering the effects fluoride has on various physiological systems. Current research is lacking, particularly in areas of immune health.

The purpose of this thesis was to study the effects that fluoride has on the immune system. Macrophage THP-1 cells, which play an important role in innate immune responses including phagocytosis of foreign materials, were exposed to different concentrations of sodium fluoride. Following exposure to fluoride, cells were analyzed to determine how, or if, cellular functions were altered. My original hypothesis was that fluoride has the ability to impair cellular functions, particularly the phagocytic function, of macrophage THP-1 cells.

Year of Submission



Department of Biology

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (11 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download