Fetal hematopoietic alterations after maternal exposure to benzo[a]pyrene: a cytometric evaluation.J Toxicol Environ Health. 1994 Jul; 42(3):259-73.JT
In utero exposure to the environmental contaminant benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) was found to alter expression of murine thymocyte and liver fetal cell-surface markers. Pregnant mice were treated (via gavage) with 0, 50, 100, or 150 mg BaP/kg/d on gestational days (gd) 13-17, and offspring were examined on gd 18. Severe thymic atrophy and cellular depletion were found in BaP-exposed fetal mice. Flow cytometric analysis indicated that the BaP treatment resulted in a significant decrease in the percentage of CD4+8+ fetal thymocytes, as well as significantly increased CD4-8- and CD4-8+ thymocytes. Staining of thymocytes with anti-mouse heat-stable antigen (HSA) and CD8 monoclonal antibodies produced similar results. These data suggest that BaP, in addition to producing thymic hypocellularity, inhibits normal thymocyte maturation processes. The BaP treatment was also found to decrease total fetal liver cellularity including numbers of cells within resident hematopoietic subpopulations. In particular, prolymphocytic cells, identified by CD44 and CD45R antigen expression and by presence of nuclear terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT), were significantly decreased in animals gestationally exposed to BaP. These data, taken together, indicate that postnatal suppression of cell and humoral-mediated immune function following in utero exposure to BaP may result from multiple targeting of immune cells at different hematopoietic levels. Furthermore, results of the present study identify both qualitative and quantitative changes in fetal immune cell antigen expression that correlate well with the postnatal immunosuppression that occurs in experimental animals exposed to this carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.