UNIT 18.15 Developmental Immunotoxicity (DIT): Assays for Evaluating Effects of Exogenous Agents on Development of the Immune System

  1. Jamie C. DeWitt1,
  2. Margie M. Peden-Adams2,
  3. Deborah E. Keil3,
  4. Rodney R. Dietert4

Published Online: 1 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/0471140856.tx1815s51

Current Protocols in Toxicology

Current Protocols in Toxicology

How to Cite

DeWitt, J. C., Peden-Adams, M. M., Keil, D. E. and Dietert, R. R. 2012. Developmental Immunotoxicity (DIT): Assays for Evaluating Effects of Exogenous Agents on Development of the Immune System. Current Protocols in Toxicology. 51:18.15:18.15.1–18.15.14.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

  2. 2

    Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada

  3. 3

    Medical Laboratory Sciences, Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah

  4. 4

    Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: FEB 2012


Developmental immunotoxicity (DIT) occurs when exposure to environmental risk factors prior to adulthood, including chemical, biological, physical, or physiological factors, alters immune system development. DIT may elicit suppression, hyperactivation, or misregulation of immune responses and may present clinically as decreased resistance to pathogens, allergic and autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory diseases. Immunotoxicity testing guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency for adult animals (OPPTS 8703.7800) require functional tests and immunophenotyping that are suitable for detecting immunomodulation, especially immunosuppression. However, evaluating immune function in offspring that are not fully immunocompetent yields results that are challenging to interpret. Therefore, this unit will describe an optimum exposure scenario, reference two assays (immunophenotyping and histopathology) appropriate for detecting immunomodulation in weaning-age offspring, and reference four assays (immunophenotyping, histopathology, T cell-dependent antibody responses, and delayed-type hypersensitivity) appropriate for detecting immunomodulation in immunocompetent offspring. The protocol also will reference other assays (natural killer cell and cytotoxic T lymphocyte) with potential utility for assessing DIT. Curr. Protoc. Toxicol. 51:18.15.1-18.15.14. © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • Developmental immunotoxicity;
  • immunophenotyping;
  • histopathology;
  • TDAR;
  • DTH