Immune Alteration Associated with Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Immunological abnormalities including lymphocyte subset, lymphocyte immune functional assays, chemical antibodies, and different markers for autoimmune response were examined in individuals exposed to a variety of chemicals in computer manufacturing plants. A comparison of 289 individuals exposed to chemicals to 120 controls revealed that exposed individuals had a significantly higher percentage with either increased or decreased T helper/T suppressor ratios. In addition, the individuals with abnormal T4/T8 ratios demonstrated significant elevation in chemical-hapten antibodies.

Therefore, 87 exposed subjects with abnormal T4/T8 ratios were selected for further evaluation by lymphocyte phenotypic expression and T cell, B cell, NK activity, and autoimmune markers, and were compared to 60 controls. The comparison of exposed individuals with controls indicated elevation of T cell (CD3), B cell (CD19), and activated T cell (CDJO, CDJS, CD26, CD38), suppressed T cell and B cell function decreased or increased NK cell cytotoxic activity. Autoimmunity due to chemical exposure was evidenced by elevation of TAJ phenotype frequencies and presence of rheumatoid factor, immune complexes, ANA, and anti mye/in basic protein antibodies. We conclude that chemical exposure may induce immune abnormalities including immune suppression and autoimmunity.

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