Exposure to environmental pollutants via food, particularly during the prenatal and early postnatal periods, has been linked to adverse effects on the immune system. Among these pollutants, the widely used pesticide glyphosate has been associated with endocrine disruption, autism, and cancer. Occupational high exposure to glyphosate has also been shown to influence immune function and exacerbate allergic asthma. However, there are no studies investigating the effect of a common low-dose glyphosate exposure on the allergic immune response – neither directly nor across generations. We therefore explored the impact of oral low-dose glyphosate exposure (0.5 and 50 mg/kg body weight/day) on airway inflammation in dams (F0) and the offspring (F1 and F2 generations) using a murine multi-generational asthma model. While exposure to 50 mg/kg glyphosate induced a mild eosinophilic infiltration in the bronchoalveolar lavage and TH2 cytokine production in the dams, the F1 offspring developed a reduced immune response after maternal exposure to 0.5 mg/kg glyphosate. In particular, decreased lung inflammation, HDM-specific IgE levels, and asthma-relevant cytokine production were primarily observed in the female F1 offspring. However, not only the TH2 cytokines IL-13 and IL-5 but also the TH17 cytokine IL-17 and TH1 cytokine IFN-γ were reduced indicating a more general immunosuppressive function. Notably, the dampened immune response was no longer observed in the female F2 generation. Furthermore, female F1 offspring showed an increased abundance of bacteria in the gut, which have been associated with probiotic-mediated reduced allergic immune responses. Our results suggest a potential immunosuppressive effect of low-dose maternal glyphosate exposure in the F1 offspring that might be mediated by an altered microbiota composition. Further studies are needed to explore if this type of immune response modulation might also be associated with impairments in immune defense upon infectious diseases or even cancer pathology.
Authors: Lisa Buchenauer, Kristin M Junge, Sven-Bastiaan Haange, Jan C Simon, Martin von Bergen, Anna-Lena Hoh, Gabriela Aust, Ana C Zenclussen, Gabriele I Stangl, Tobias Polte
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2022 Aug 11;850:157973. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157973.