Immune parameters in biological monitoring of pesticide exposure: current knowledge and perspectives

Toxicol Lett. 1999 Sep 5;108(2-3):285-95. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4274(99)00100-9.


Exposure to pesticides can cause a number of effects on the immune system, varying from a slight modulation of immune functions to the development of clinical immune diseases. The aim of this study has been reviewing published data on immune effects of pesticides in humans, with particular attention for effects observed in absence of any other change, and to the possibility of identifying a dose effect relationship. Some evidence of immunotoxic effects in man involve organophosphorus compounds, some organochlorine insecticides (OC), some carbamates, some phenoxy herbicides, dithiocarbamates, and pentachlorophenol (PCP). The alterations are usually observed in absence of any other change; in some cases, data suggest the presence of a dose effect relationship. The prognostic significance of the observed changes is still unclear. The Authors propose a tier approach to assess immune effects in humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / blood
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Complement System Proteins / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Herbicides / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Italy
  • Lymphocyte Subsets
  • No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Level
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*


  • Antibodies
  • Herbicides
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Insecticides
  • Complement System Proteins