252023 Interactions between toxic environmental exposures and infectious diseases

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:30 AM

Linda Birnbaum, PhD , National Toxicology Program, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC
The body's immune defenses are affected by a variety of chemicals and air pollutants, resulting in altered risk of allergic and infectious diseases. For example, diesel exhaust particles have been demonstrated to act as adjuvants in priming allergic immune responses to pollens. Indoor air pollutants from kerosene lamps and stoves greatly increase the risk of developing tuberculosis, while outdoor air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide increase the risk of pneumonia. Arsenic and dioxin exposure have been associated with H1N1 influenza susceptibility, while PCB's have been shown to suppress responses to vaccination. Mechanisms of toxicity vary. Some pollutants reduce the effectiveness of the innate immune system, while others impair the development and/or the function of the adaptive immune system. As new tests for assessing immune system integrity and early indicators of immune system damage have been developed, our understanding of immunotoxicity and our ability to identify exposures that have adverse immune effects has increased.

This presentation will review current understanding of immunotoxic properties of chemicals. Examples of NIEHS-supported research on chemical effects on infectious diseases and immune function will be provided.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health biology

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify chemicals associated with effects on the immune system. 2) Identify air pollutants associated with effects on the immune system. 3) Describe NIEHS research on immunotoxicity and interactions between chemical exposures and infectious diseases.

Keywords: Infectious Diseases, Environmental Exposures

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As Director of the NIEHS and NTP as well as the former Director of the Experimental Toxicology division at EPA, I have many years of experience studying personally and managing large research program on immune and endocrine disrupting effects of chemicals. My doctoral training is in microbiology, and I am therefore very familiar with the science of infectious diseases as well.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.