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J Immunotoxicol. 2013 Apr-Jun;10(2):119-24. doi: 10.3109/1547691X.2012.696743. Epub 2012 Sep 11.

Immunotoxicity of the organochlorine pesticide methoxychlor in female ICR, BALB/c, and C3H/He mice.

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Institute of Environmental Toxicology, Ibaraki, Japan.


Several types of pesticides, including organochlorines, are known to suppress or modulate immune responses. The present study evaluated the immunotoxicity of the organochlorine pesticide methoxychlor (MXC) in female BALB/c, C3H/He, and ICR mice. Mice were given oral MXC doses of 0, 30, 100, and 300 mg/kg each day for 7 consecutive days. On day 4, the mice also received an intravenous injection of sheep red blood cells (SRBC). The splenic plaque-forming cell (PFC) IgM response and the serum anti-SRBC IgM antibody titer were evaluated while splenic lymphocytes were counted by flow cytometry and the spleen underwent histopathological analysis. Significant decreases in IgM PFC responses were seen in BALB/c, C3H/He, and ICR mice that received MXC doses of 100 and 300 mg/kg. Similar changes in serum anti-SRBC IgM antibody titers occurred in three strain mice. Flow cytometric analysis revealed significantly decreased splenic T-cell (CD3+) populations in a dose dependent manner in BALB/c mice, and in the 300 mg/kg of MXC-treated group of C3H/He mice. Germinal center (GC) B-cell (CD19+PNA+) populations were significantly decreased in the 300 mg/kg of MXC-treated groups of all three mouse strains and in the 30 and 100 mg/kg of MXC-treated groups of BALB/c and C3H/He strain mice. Histopathological analysis revealed decreased cellularity of the periarteriolar lymphoid sheath (PALS; T-cell area) and decreased GC development in all three strains of mice treated with 300 mg/kg MXC. These results suggest that MXC has an immune-suppressive effect in mice, and that our protocol may be useful for rapidly detecting immunosuppression induced by environmental chemicals.

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