JP-8 jet fuel exposure suppresses the immune response to viral infections

Toxicol Ind Health. 2008 May;24(4):209-16. doi: 10.1177/0748233708093781.


The US Air Force has implemented the widespread use of JP-8 jet fuel in its operations, although a thorough understanding of its potential effects upon exposed personnel is unclear. Previous work has reported that JP-8 exposure is immunosuppressive. Exposure of mice to JP-8 for 1A h/day resulted in immediate secretion of two immunosuppressive agents, namely, interleukin-10 and prostaglandin E2. Thus, it was of interest to determine if jet fuel exposure might alter the immune response to infectious agents. The Hong Kong influenza model was used for these studies. Mice were exposed to 1000A mg/m(3) JP-8 (1A h/day) for 7A days before influenza viral infection. Animals were infected intra-nasally with virus and followed in terms of overall survival as well as immune responses. All surviving animals were killed 14A days after viral infection. In the present study, JP-8 exposure increased the severity of the viral infection by suppressing the anti-viral immune responses. That is, exposure of mice to JP-8 for 1A h/day for 7A days before infection resulted in decreased immune cell viability after exposure and infection, a greater than fourfold decrease in immune proliferative responses to mitogens, as well as an overall loss of CD3(+), CD4(+), and CD8(+) T cells from the lymph nodes, but not the spleens, of infected animals. These changes resulted in decreased survival of the exposed and infected mice, with only 33% of animals surviving as compared with 50% of mice infected but not jet fuel-exposed (and 100% of mice exposed only to JP-8). Thus, short-term, low-concentration JP-8 jet fuel exposures have significant suppressive effects on the immune system which can result in increased severity of viral infections.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Disease Susceptibility / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons / administration & dosage
  • Hydrocarbons / immunology
  • Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Influenza, Human / immunology*
  • Influenza, Human / mortality
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Animal
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Survival Analysis
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Viruses / immunology


  • Hydrocarbons
  • JP8 aviation fuel