Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Environ Health. 2005 Apr 14;4(1):5.

Immune function biomarkers in children exposed to lead and organochlorine compounds: a cross-sectional study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Michigan State University, B601 West Fee Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA. karmaus@msu.edu



Different organochlorines and lead (Pb) have been shown to have immunomodulating properties. Children are at greater risk for exposure to these environmental toxicants, but very little data exist on simultaneous exposures to these substances.


We investigated whether the organochlorine compounds (OC) dichlorodiphenylethylene (DDE), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), hexachlorocyclohexane (gamma-HCH), the sum of polychlorinated biphenyls (SigmaPCBs) and Pb were associated with immune markers such as immunoglobulin (Ig) levels, white blood cell (WBC), counts of lymphocytes; eosinophils and their eosinophilic granula as well as IgE count on basophils. The investigation was part of a cross-sectional environmental study in Hesse, Germany. In 1995, exposure to OC and Pb were determined, questionnaire data collected and immune markers quantified in 331 children. For the analyses, exposure (OC and Pb) concentrations were grouped in quartiles (gamma-HCH into tertiles). Using linear regression, controlling for age, gender, passive smoking, serum lipids, and infections in the previous 12 months, we assessed the association between exposures and immune markers. Adjusted geometric means are provided for the different exposure levels.


Geometric means were: DDE 0.32 microg/L, SigmaPCBs 0.50 microg/L, HCB 0.22 microg/L, gamma-HCH 0.02 microg/L and Pb 26.8 microg/L. The SigmaPCBs was significantly associated with increased IgM levels, whereas HCB was inversely related to IgM. There was a higher number of NK cells (CD56+) with increased gamma-HCH concentrations. At higher lead concentrations we saw increased IgE levels. DDE showed the most associations with significant increases in WBC count, in IgE count on basophils, IgE, IgG, and IgA levels. DDE was also found to significantly decrease eosinophilic granula content.


Low-level exposures to OC and lead (Pb) in children may have immunomodulating effects. The increased IgE levels, IgE count on basophils, and the reduction of eosinophilic granula at higher DDE concentrations showed a most consistent pattern, which could be of clinical importance in the etiology of allergic diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk