Oral (gavage), in utero and post-natal exposure of Sprague-Dawley rats to low doses of tributyltin chloride. Part II: effects on the immune system

Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Feb;42(2):221-35. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2003.08.019.


The immunotoxic effects of tributyltin chloride (TBTC) were examined in the offspring of Sprague-Dawley rats exposed in utero from day 8 of gestation, through lactation and post-weaning until pups reached the age of 30 days (male and female), 60 days (female) and 90 days (male). Daily oral (gavage) doses of 0.025, 0.25 and 2.5 mg/kg body weight/day were administered in olive oil 7 days/week. Immunologic endpoints were investigated at the termination of each study. Statistically significant results (P<0.05) included the following: At 30 days, the mean percent and absolute natural killer (NK) cell numbers were increased in male and female rats treated with the high TBTC dose. At 60 days, female rats had increased mean serum IgM levels at the low and high TBTC doses, increased mean percentage CD4(+)8(+) (immature) T lymphocytes at the middle and high doses, a non-linear dose-response increase in NK cell activity at the 50:1 and 100:1 effector:target cell ratios (pairwise comparisons significant at the low dose compared with control), and increased mean numbers of L. monocytogenes colony-forming bacteria on Day 2 post-infection (significant for trend) and Day 3 post infection (pairwise comparisons significant only in the middle dose). The 90-day male rats had decreased mean serum IgA levels at the middle dose group; increased IgM levels at the high dose group, increased IgG levels at the middle and high doses; decreased IgG2(a) in the high dose compared to the control; a dose-related increase in the mean percentage NK cell numbers (pairwise comparisons significant at the high dose compared with the control) and increased mean NK cell activity (pairwise comparisons significant at all dose groups compared with the control). The delayed-type hypersensitivity response to oxazolone was increased in the low and middle doses and decreased in the high dose. Thymus atrophy was observed in the high TBTC dose across all ages. Thus, in utero and post-natal treatment of F1 rats with low levels of TBTC affected some aspects of humoral and cell mediated immunity as well as the number and function of cells which are involved in the host's immunosurveillance mechanisms against tumours and viral infections.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Food Contamination
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects
  • Trialkyltin Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Trialkyltin Compounds / toxicity*


  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Trialkyltin Compounds
  • tributyltin