Gestational exposure to DES linked to maternal antibodies concentrations reduction

Perinatal exposure to low doses of PCB 153 and PCB 126 affects maternal and neonatal immunity in goat kids, 2006 Jan


Pregnant does (10 goats/group) were dosed orally either with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) 153 (98 microg/kg body weight/d) or PCB 126 (ng/kg body weight/d) dissolved in corn oil or with corn oil only (control group) from gestation day (GD) 60 until delivery.

An additional group (n = 5) of pregnant does received the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES; 0.4 microg/kg body weight/d) by intramuscular injection using the same treatment schedule as for the PCB groups.

Blood samples for immune analysis were collected at wk 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 of age. The effects of perinatal PCB exposure on postnatal humoral immune responses were examined by assessing the levels of total immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulins to specific microbes at wk 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 of age, and immune responses following immunization of kids at 2 wk of age.

PCB 153 exposure suppressed maternal and neonatal immunity, as demonstrated by reduced transfer of maternal IgG and specific antibodies to the environmental microbes Arcanobacterium pyogenes, Mannheimia haemolytica, and reovirus (REO-1). Furthermore, PCB 153 reduced the level of maternal antibodies to Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis and equine influenza virus (EIV-1) in the newborn kids. The antibody response against EIV-1 was significantly higher in PCB 153-exposed kids 2 wk following immunization.

PCB 126 exposure reduced the levels of maternal antibodies to REO-1. In contrast, gestational exposure to PCB 126 increased the concentrations of maternal antibodies to tetanus toxoid. No differences from controls in plasma total IgG levels at birth or colostrum IgG concentrations were observed in the PCB 126-treated does. However, a significant reduction in IgG levels from GD 60 until delivery was found in this group.

Gestational exposure to DES reduced the concentrations of maternal antibodies against A. pyogenes, M. haemolytica, M. avium Paratuberculosis, and REO-1.

These results suggest that perinatal exposure to low doses of PCB 126 and PCB 153 affects the maternal immunity in kids. The difference in responses between PCB 126 and PCB 153 treatment groups may strengthen the hypothesis that PCBs mediate immunotoxic effects through both AhR-dependent and -independent mechanisms. The observation that the effects produced by PCB 153 resembled those produced by DES raises the question of whether this congener may modulate immunity by estrogenic mechanisms.


  • Perinatal exposure to low doses of PCB 153 and PCB 126 affects maternal and neonatal immunity in goat kids, Journal of toxicology and environmental health, NCBI PubMed, PMID: 16291567, 2006 Jan.
  • Featured image Terrie Schweitzer.

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