Dietary methoxychlor exposure modulates splenic natural killer cell activity, antibody-forming cell response and phenotypic marker expression in F0 and F1 generations of Sprague Dawley rats
Methoxychlor, a chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide, is a persistent environmental contaminant that has been identified in human reproductive tissues. Methoxychlor has been shown to be estrogenic in both in vivo and in vitro studies. As an endocrine disrupter, it may have the potential to adversely affect endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems in animals. The present study evaluated methoxychlor's immunotoxic potential in F0 (dams) and F1 generations of Sprague Dawley rats exposed to an isoflavone-free diet containing methoxychlor at concentrations of 10, 100, and 1000 ppm. In dams, exposure to methoxychlor from gestation day 7 to postpartum day 51 (65 days total exposure) produced a significant increase in the NK activity (1000 ppm) and the percentages of T cells (1000 ppm), helper T cells (1000 ppm) and macrophages (100 and 1000 ppm). In contrast, a decrease in the numbers of splenocytes and B cells was observed at the 100 and 1000 ppm concentrations. In F1 males, exposure to methoxychlor gestationally, lactationally and through feed from postnatal day 22-64 (78 days total exposure) produced an increase in the spleen IgM antibody-forming cell response to sheep red blood cells (100 and 1000 ppm) and the activity of NK cells (1000 ppm). However, there was a decrease in the terminal body weight (1000 ppm), spleen weight (1000 ppm), thymus weight (100 and 1000 ppm), and the numbers of splenocytes (1000 ppm), B cells (100 and 1000 ppm), cytotoxic T cells (1000 ppm) and NK cells (100 and 1000 ppm). In F1 females, exposure to methoxychlor produced a decrease in the terminal body weight (1000 ppm) and the percentages of cytotoxic T cells (10, 100 and 1000 ppm). These results demonstrate that developmental and adult dietary exposure to methoxychlor modulates immune responses in Sprague Dawley rats. Immunological changes were more pronounced in the F1 generation male rats that were exposed during gestation and postpartum, when compared to the F0 and F1 generation females. Increases in antibody-forming cell response and NK cell activity, and altered spleen cell subpopulation numbers were observed in the F1 generation male rats, without similar changes to the F1 generation females.