This textbook of developmental immunotoxicology was created to provide a nonexhaustive but reasonably extensive overview of available information concerning adverse postnatal consequences of perinatal immunotoxicant exposure. A general familiarity with development of the immune system greatly assists understanding of how early-life toxicant challenges may transiently or permanently change later immune responsiveness. For this reason we begin with two chapters that review immune system development in the most-studied species, rodents and humans. Industry- and government-sponsored symposia and workshops over the past 2 to 3 years considering developmental immunotoxicity issues have without exception expressed interest in effective risk assessment methodologies and research model availability for characterizing and detecting developmental immunotoxicity. The next five chapters of this book were solicited as our attempt to address these needs. The first of these chapters specifically addresses risk assessment perspectives for developmental immunotoxicology, while authors of the other four chapters present and discuss utility of mouse, rat, pig, and nonhuman primate research models for developmental immunotoxicology.
Five chapters of the textbook have been devoted to different classes of developmental immunotoxicants, including halogenated and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., TCDD; benzo[a]pyrene), pesticides (chlordane), and heavy metals (lead). The apparent permanent nature of immune deficits reported in mice after developmental exposure to chlordane or benzo[a]pyrene is startling, and discussed as parts of these chapters. Related literature further suggests that early exposure to estrogenic compounds may permanently imprint immune cells with an altered response capacity (e.g., interferon-g production by T cells), and raises concern that such imprinting may increase risk of later-life exaggerated immune responses (hypersensitivity disorders; autoimmune diseases). Maternal neurotoxicity, offspring gender, and maternal nutritional status may further influence the spectrum of immune defects caused by immunotoxic compound exposure during development, and as such are considered in the final chapters of the textbook.
It will become apparent to readers that, while much is known, developmental immunotoxicology is nonetheless a discipline in its infancy. Many important gaps in the present knowledge base exist, especially regarding identification of heightened windows of immunotoxicant sensitivity during development, and potential long-term effects of immunotoxic agents (e.g., therapeutic immunosuppressants) on human immune development. It is our hope that information provided in this textbook will serve as an important resource to scientists devoted to filling these data gaps.
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