Changes in lymphocyte subsets in workers exposed to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)

2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is known to have toxic effects on the haematopoietic system in animals but epidemiological studies in humans have shown inconsistent results. In this cross sectional study, the authors investigated changes in peripheral blood cell counts and lymphocyte subsets among workers from a Dutch historical cohort occupationally exposed to chlorophenoxy herbicides and contaminants including TCDD. Forty-seven workers who had been exposed to high levels of TCDD in the past and 38 low-exposed workers were included in the current investigation. Complete blood counts and differential and major lymphocyte subsets were analysed. Current plasma levels of TCDD (TCDDcurrent) were detected by high resolution gas chromatography/isotope-dilution high resolution mass spectrometry. TCDD blood levels at the time of last exposure (TCDDmax) were estimated using a one-compartment first order kinetic model. The results showed that cell counts and lymphocyte subsets were similar between high- and low-exposed workers, except for a non-dose dependent increase in CD4/CD8 ratio among high-exposed workers. Interestingly, most lymphocyte subsets, in particular the B cell compartment, showed a decrease with increasing levels of both TCDDcurrent and TCDDmaximum. The authors concluded that overall, the present study showed that plasma TCDD levels had no effect on white blood cell counts and major subsets. However, a nonsignificant decrease in most lymphocyte subsets was noted, with the strongest effect for B cells. The latter finding may suggest that dioxin exposure might have an adverse impact on the haematopoietic system and lends some support to B cell lymphoma induction by dioxin.

Authors: Hosnijeh, Fatemeh Saberi; Lenters, Virissa; Boers, Daisy; Portengen, Lutzen; Baeten, Ellen; Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, H.; Heederik, Dick J. J.; Bloem, Andries C.; Vermeulen, Roel ;Full Source: Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2012, 69(11), 781-786 (English) ;