Immunotoxicity of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in a complex environmental mixture from the Love Canal

Fundam Appl Toxicol. 1989 Feb;12(2):303-12. doi: 10.1016/0272-0590(89)90047-x.


The organic phase of the leachate (OPL) from the Love Canal chemical dump site contains more than 100 organic compounds including 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). The immunotoxic potential of OPL was determined in two mouse strains which differ in their sensitivity to aromatic hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor-mediated toxicity. OPL was administered in corn oil in a single oral gavage to male BALB/cByJ (Ahb/Ahb) mice (0.5, 0.8, or 1.1 g/kg) and DBA/2J (Ahd/Ahd) mice (0.6, 0.9, or 1.3 g/kg). TCDD was similarly administered at 0.25, 1.0, 4.0, or 16.0 micrograms/kg. Two days later all mice were immunized with sheep erythrocytes (SRBC). The antibody response (PFC) and organ weights were evaluated 4 days later. OPL produced thymic atrophy and hepatomegaly in both strains at all dose levels. The PFC/spleen in BALB/cByJ mice was significantly reduced at the three doses to 34, 13, and 15%, respectively, of the control response. Serum anti-SRBC antibody levels and relative spleen weights were also reduced. The only immune effect in the DBA/2J mice was a decrease of the PFC/spleen to 58% of the control at the highest dose. TCDD decreased the relative thymus and spleen weights only in BALB/cByJ mice. However, TCDD produced hepatomegaly, a decrease in serum antibody, and a decrease in PFC/spleen in both BALB/cByJ and DBA/2J mice to 3 and 15%, respectively, at 16 micrograms/kg. Thus, the TCDD dose required to cause a 50% suppression (ED50) of PFC/spleen for the BALB/cByJ and DBA/2J strains was 1.84 and 3.89 micrograms/kg, respectively. The ED50 for OPL was 0.24 g/kg in BALB/cByJ mice. The TCDD concentration in the OPL was estimated to be 7.6 ppm, which agrees closely with the chemical analysis (3 ppm). The results suggest that the immunosuppression caused by OPL in BALB/cByJ mice was primarily due to TCDD, that the non-TCDD components of OPL diminished the TCDD immunotoxicity in the DBA/2J strain, and that the thymic atrophy and hepatomegaly were caused primarily by the non-TCDD components of the OPL.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Dioxins / toxicity*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Hemagglutination Tests
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / toxicity*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects


  • Dioxins
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins