Role of developmental immunotoxicity and immune dysfunction in chronic disease and cancer

Reprod Toxicol. 2011 Apr;31(3):319-26. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2010.09.006. Epub 2010 Sep 18.


The developing immune system is among the most sensitive targets for environmental insult and risk of chronic disease including cancer. Developmental immunotoxicity (DIT)-associated health risks include not only pediatric diseases like childhood asthma and type 1 diabetes, but also multi-disease "patterns" of conditions linked to the initial immune dysfunction. DIT contributes to ever-increasing health care costs, increasing reliance on drugs and reduced quality of life. Drug discovery efforts using cutting-edge immunology produce effective tools for management of allergic, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases; in stark contrast, required immunotoxicity testing clings to an outdated understanding of the immune system and its relationship to disease. As currently required, immune safety evaluation of drugs and chemicals lacks the capability of protecting against the most prevalent pediatric immune dysfunction-based diseases. For this reason, mandatory and relevant DIT testing is needed for all drugs and chemicals where pregnant women and children are at risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects
  • Fetal Development / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immune System / physiopathology
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Xenobiotics