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Target Organ and Tissue Toxicity

  1. Robert W. Luebke PhD1,
  2. Celine A. Beamer PhD2,
  3. Christal Bowman PhD1,
  4. Jamie DeWitt PhD1,3,
  5. Kymberly Gowdy PhD1,4,
  6. Victor J. Johnson5,
  7. David M. Shepherd6,
  8. Dori M. Germolec7

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat073

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Luebke, R. W., Beamer, C. A., Bowman, C., DeWitt, J., Gowdy, K., Johnson, V. J., Shepherd, D. M. and Germolec, D. M. 2009. Immunotoxicology. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    US Environmental Protection Agency, Immunotoxicology Branch, Experimental Toxicology Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA

  2. 2

    University of Montana, Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Missoula, Montana, USA

  3. 3

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Curriculum in Toxicology, North Carolina, USA

  4. 4

    North Carolina State University, Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

  5. 5

    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Toxicology and Molecular Biology Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

  6. 6

    University of Montana, Center For Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Missoula, Montana, USA

  7. 7

    National Institute of Environmental Health Science, Toxicology Branch, National Toxicology Program, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


The immune system is a complex set of cellular and soluble mediators that protects the body against infectious agents and neoplasias. Innate immune responses do not require antigen recognition or clonal expansion and thus provide a rapid defence response against pathogenic organisms. The adaptive immune response is more complex, requiring recognition of foreign antigens via cell-surface receptors, production of growth factors, proliferation of antigen-specific lymphocytes and activation of effector mechanisms that are ultimately directed against infectious agents or cancerous cells. While immune responses are usually beneficial, hypersensitivity reactions and autoimmune diseases are examples of inappropriate responses that may occur in genetically susceptible individuals following exposure to an environmental trigger. Immunotoxicology is the subdiscipline of toxicology that focusses on the unintended effects of chemical exposure on the immune system. There is extensive evidence to suggest that following exposure to particular chemicals unintended immunosuppression, unintended immunostimulation, hypersensitivity or autoimmunity may occur. Chemical-induced modulation of the immune system may result in adverse outcomes such as increased incidences of infectious or neoplastic diseases, allergy/asthma or autoimmune diseases. This chapter presents an overview of immune responses and how these responses may be affected by xenobiotics.


  • adaptive immunity;
  • allergy;
  • autoimmunity;
  • cytokines;
  • dendritic cells;
  • developmental immunotoxicity;
  • hazard identification;
  • hypersensitivity;
  • immune-mediated disease;
  • immunology;
  • immunotoxicology;
  • innate immunity;
  • Langerhans' cell;
  • lymphocytes;
  • macrophages;
  • mechanisms of immunotoxicity;
  • sensitization;
  • signalling