Developmental Immunotoxicity of Atrazine in Rodents

Authors

  • Alexander M. Rowe,

    1. Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology
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  • Kathleen M. Brundage,

    1. Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology
    2. Center for Immunopathology and Microbial Pathogenesis, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV, USA
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  • John B. Barnett

    1. Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology
    2. Center for Immunopathology and Microbial Pathogenesis, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV, USA
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Author for correspondence: John B. Barnett, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV 26506-9177, USA (fax +1 304-293-7823, e-mail jbarnett@hsc.wvu.edu).

Abstract

Abstract:  There is a substantial literature reporting that the developing immune system is more sensitive to toxic insult and that the measurable phenotype resulting from prenatal/neonatal exposure often differs from that seen in adult exposure models (reviewed in Holladay and Steven, and Smialowicz et al.). Atrazine is a common herbicidal contaminant of groundwater in agricultural areas in the USA. The potential immunotoxicity of atrazine has been extensively studied using adult-exposure models; however, few studies have explored its immunotoxicity in a prenatal and/or lactational exposure model. Prenatal/lactational atrazine exposure affects the function of young adult rodent immune systems in both sex- and age-dependant manners. In our studies, the humoural and cell-mediated immune responses of offspring from atrazine-exposed dams were assessed at two ages, 3 and 6 months of age to test the hypothesis that prenatal/lactational atrazine exposure would cause greater health complications as the mice aged. Male offspring showed a significant immunopotentiation at three moa that was not apparent at 6 months. Three-month-old female offspring showed no significant difference in immune response from controls. However, at 6 months, female litter mates showed a significant depression in their immune function. These results indicate a decreasing trend in immune capacity. Rooney et al. showed a significant depression of the immune function of young male rat exposure prenatally and lactationally to atrazine. These results demonstrate a sex- and age-dependant effect of prenatal exposure to atrazine on the immune system of the adult offspring using two rodent strains.

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