Evaluation of the immunomodulatory effects of the disinfection by-product, sodium chlorite, in female B6C3F1 mice: a drinking water study
Sodium chlorite is an inorganic by-product of chlorine dioxide formed during the chlorination of drinking water. Relatively little is known about the adverse health effects of exposure to sodium chlorite in drinking water. In this study, we evaluated sodium chlorite's immunomodulatory properties using female B6C3F1 mice and a panel of immune assays that were designed to evaluate potential changes in innate and acquired cellular and humoral immune responses. Female B6C3F1 mice were exposed to sodium chlorite in their drinking water (0, 0.1, 1, 5, 15, and 30 mg/L) for 28 days, and then evaluated for immunomodulation. Overall, minimal toxicological and immunological changes were observed after exposure to sodium chlorite. Increases in the percentages of blood reticulocytes, and the relative spleen weights were both observed at different sodium chlorite treatment levels; however, these increases were not dose-dependent. An increasing trend in the number of spleen antibody-forming cells was observed over the range of sodium chlorite concentrations. This increase was not, however, significant at any individual treatment level, and was not reflected by changes in serum IgM levels. A significant increase (26%) in the total number of splenic CD8+ cells was observed in mice treated with 30 mg/L of sodium chlorite, but not at the other concentrations. Splenic mixed leukocyte response and peritoneal macrophage activity were unaffected by sodium chlorite. Lastly, exposure to sodium chlorite did not affect natural killer cell activity, although a decrease in augmented natural killer cell activity (42%) was observed at the lowest sodium chlorite treatment level. These results suggest that sodium chlorite, within the range 0.1-30 mg/L, produces minimal immunotoxicity in mice.