Loss of pre-B and IgM(+) B Cells in the Bone Marrow After Exposure to a Mixture of Herbicides

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2003 Dec 26;66(24):2299-313. doi: 10.1080/716100638.


This study determined alterations to bone marrow B-cell populations after in vivo exposure to a mixture containing the herbicides 3,4-dichloropropionanilide (propanil) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and compared them to the effects of exposure to the individual herbicides. Propanil and 2,4-D are postemergent herbicides that are sold commercially as a mixture. The individual herbicides or the mixture containing propanil and 2,4-D were administered intraperitoneally to C57Bl/6 female mice at doses from 50 to 200 mg herbicide/kg body weight. The mixtures were given in a 1:1 ratio. Flow cytometric analysis was performed to quantitate bone marrow B-cell populations at 1, 2, 7, and 14d posttreatment. Mixture treatment decreased pre-B and immunoglobulin (Ig) M(+) B-cell populations at all doses by 2 d postexposure. The cell populations were still decreased at 7d posttreatment. In contrast, exposure to the individual herbicides only caused decreases in the pre-B and IgM(+) B-cell populations 7d after exposure to the high doses. Previous studies have demonstrated that corticosterone levels are increased by exposure to propanil. Therefore, the glucocorticoid hormone, corticosterone, was investigated as a possible mediator of cell loss in the bone marrow. Treatment with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, RU 486, however, did not prevent cell loss in the bone marrow of mice exposed to the mixture of propanil and 2,4-D. This study demonstrates that pre-B and IgM(+) B-cell populations are decreased after exposure to propanil, 2,4-D, or the mixture containing propanil and 2,4-D. Exposure to the mixture had greater toxic effects than the individual herbicides on bone marrow pre-B and IgM(+) B-cell populations, emphasizing the need to study mixture interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid / administration & dosage
  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Bone Marrow / drug effects*
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Herbicides / administration & dosage
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Immunoglobulin M / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mifepristone / administration & dosage
  • Mifepristone / pharmacology
  • Propanil / administration & dosage
  • Propanil / toxicity*


  • Herbicides
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid
  • Mifepristone
  • Propanil