Diethylstilbestrol markedly influence the immune system

The immune system as a potential target for environmental estrogens (endocrine disrupters): a new emerging field

2000 Study Abstract

It is now well known that natural (17beta-estradiol) and synthetic (e.g. diethylstilbestrol) estrogens not only affect the reproductive system, but also markedly influence the immune system.

Recently, a new class of estrogens that is abundant in the environment (in industrial chemicals, pesticides, and surfactants) has been recognized. Some of these estrogenic chemicals (which are a large subgroup of endocrine disrupters) have also been shown to influence the immune system.

This review assimilates growing evidence in wildlife, laboratory animals and to a limited extent in humans, which suggests that environmental chemicals may also affect the immune system. Further studies are needed to ascertain the immunological consequences of exposure to environmental estrogens, especially in humans. At the present time, it is not known whether the human immune system responds to a low dose of environmental estrogens or if environmental estrogens influence certain subsets of human populations, rather than the general population. Conceivably, an alteration of the immune system by environmental estrogens could affect the individuals’ ability to mount well-regulated immune responses to microbial and vaccine antigens, allergens, self and tumor antigens. Possible changes in the immune system must be investigated routinely in toxicity studies. A comprehensive mechanistic understanding of potential immunomodulatory chemicals is needed. In this regard, relevant laboratory animals may be especially useful in identifying susceptible periods of life, whether both genders are equally affected, in analysis of changes in target lymphoid organs, and to determine the immunological effects of mixtures of chemicals.

Sources and more information
  • The immune system as a potential target for environmental estrogens (endocrine disrupters): a new emerging field, Toxicology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 10996675, 2000 Sep.
  • Featured image credit nasamarshall.

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