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Immunological changes among farmers exposed to phenoxy herbicides: preliminary observations
Local Health Unit, Tarquinia (VT), Italy.
Linköping University, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Instituto Superiore di Sanita', Rome, Italy.
Epidemiologic Unit, Lazio Regional Health Authority, Rome, Italy.
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1999 (English)In: Occupational and Environmental Medicine, ISSN 1351-0711, E-ISSN 1470-7926, Vol. 53, no 9, 583-589 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate short term immunological changes after agricultural exposure to commercial formulations of chlorophenoxy herbicides.

METHODS: Blood samples were collected from 10 farmers within seven days before exposure, one to 12 days after exposure, and again 50 to 70 days after exposure. Whole blood was used to count lymphocyte subsets with monoclonal antibodies. Peripheral blood mononuclear (PBM) cells were used to measure natural killer (NK) cell activity and lymphocyte response to mitogenic stimulations. Values before exposure were used as reference.

RESULTS: In comparison with concentrations before exposure, a significant reduction was found one to 12 days after exposure in the following variables (P < 0.05): circulating helper (CD4) and suppressor T cells (CD8), CD8 dim, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), natural killer cells (NK), and CD8 cells expressing the surface antigens HLA-DR (CD8-DR), and lymphoproliferative response to mitogen stimulations. All immunological values found 50-70 days after exposure were comparable with concentrations before exposure, but mitogenic proliferative responses of lymphocytes were still significantly decreased.

CONCLUSIONS: According to our data agricultural exposure to commercial 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) formulations may exert short term immunosuppressive effects. Further studies should clarify whether the immunological changes found may have health implications and can specifically contribute to cancer aetiology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1999. Vol. 53, no 9, 583-589 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-84607DOI: 10.1136/oem.53.9.583OAI: diva2:560574
Available from: 2012-10-15 Created: 2012-10-15 Last updated: 2012-10-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Cancer risks and immunological effects in agriculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cancer risks and immunological effects in agriculture
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In general, farmers and agricultural workers are characterized by relatively low mortality rates when considering all causes of death and deaths due to all types of cancer. However, several studies have shown that this occupational category tend to be at increased risks of developing the following forms of malignancies: leukaemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the skin, lip, prostate, stomach, brain, and connective tissue. Although the reported excesses have not been consistent in different studies, they nevertheless suggest that agricultural exposures, especially pesticides, contribute to cancer aetiology through different mechanisms of action. It has been hypothesised that immunotoxic effects may play a role, since most of the malignancies found to be increased in workers employed in agriculture are also elevated in patients suffering from innnunodeficiencies. The present studies were conducted to ascertain whether agricultural activities and exposures influence the risk of developing cancer, and to evaluate the innnunological effects of phenoxy herbicides as possibly important for the aetiology of lymphomas.

Different types of cancer were considered in relation to farming in two case-control studies, focused one on men and the other on women. A decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (odds ratio [OR] 0.4) and an excess of skin melanoma (OR 2.7) and bladder cancer (OR 2.7) were observed in the women. The main finding in the men was an excess of prostate cancer (OR 1.5). Further analyses showed that this malignancy was associated with exposure to chlorinated compounds (OR 2.5), and, more specifically, to DDT (OR 2.1) and dicofol and tetradifon (OR 2.8).

Mortality in selected groups of farmers and their relatives was investigated in two cohort studies. Farmers and their wives showed reduced mortality from all causes and all cancers although there was a tendency towards increased risk of leukaemia, particularly among wives of pesticide users (standardised mortality ratio [SMR] 2.4). Adult sons and daughters of green-house owners exhibited increased mortality from all types of cancer (SMR 1.9).

A study was also performed to compare pre- and post-exposure values of selected immunological parameters in a group of ten farmers exposed to phenoxy herbicides. The most notable fmdings were reduced levels of the following: circulating natural killer (NK) cells (-38%), NK cytotoxic activity (-53%), and lymphocyte response to mitogenic stimulation (-50%).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2003. 49 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 779
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-26668 (URN)11234 (Local ID)91-7373-538-8 (ISBN)11234 (Archive number)11234 (OAI)
Public defence
2003-04-08, Aulan, Hälsans hus, Universitetssjukhuset, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-08 Created: 2009-10-08 Last updated: 2012-10-15Bibliographically approved

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