Arsenic has wide-ranging effects on human health and there is evidence that it alters the immune response by influencing CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratios, IL-2 cytokine levels, and the expression of immune-response genes. We investigated the impact of in utero environmental arsenic exposure on immune development and function in newborns participating in a pregnancy cohort in New Hampshire, U.S., where arsenic levels have exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 10 μg/L. Our results showed that maternal urinary arsenic concentrations were inversely related to absolute total CD45RA+ CD4+ cord blood CD69+ T cell counts (N=116, p=0.04) and positively associated with CD45RA+ CD69- CD294+ cell counts (p=0.01). In placental samples (N=70), higher in utero urinary arsenic concentrations were positively associated with the expression of IL1β (p=0.03). These data provide evidence that relatively low-level arsenic exposure in utero may alter the fetal immune system and lead to immune dysregulation.
Keywords: AQP9; Arsenic; IL1β; Immune function; In utero; T cell.
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