Oral exposure to mineral oils: Is there an association with immune perturbation and autoimmunity?

Toxicology. 2016 Feb 17;344-346:19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2016.01.008. Epub 2016 Jan 25.


Mineral oils is a generic term that describes a category of petroleum products, that may include lubricating base oils and highly refined base oils. Parenteral exposure of rodents to certain mineral oil hydrocarbons has been reported to induce immune perturbation associated with the development of autoimmune responses. Consumers are exposed to a variety of mineral oil hydrocarbons via food and food contaminants, and in particular via food packaging. It is relevant, therefore, to consider whether dietary exposure to mineral oils results in similar effects; and that is the purpose of this article. There is no evidence that oral or dietary exposure of experimental animals to mineral oils will induce autoimmune responses, and the information that is available indicates that dietary exposure does not provoke such responses. There are epidemiological reports that suggest an association between mineral oils and autoimmunity in humans. However, the presumption in such instances is of high levels of exposure by inhalation or via the skin, and by reference to the data available from animal studies it is probable that dietary exposure would be ineffective.

Keywords: Adjuvants; Autoimmunity; Mineral oil; Pristane.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / drug effects*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Food Contamination*
  • Food Packaging / standards
  • Food Packaging / trends
  • Humans
  • Mineral Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Mineral Oil / toxicity


  • Mineral Oil