Effects of in utero JP-8 jet fuel exposure on the immune systems of pregnant and newborn mice

Dt Harris, D. Sakiestewa, X. He, D. Titone, M. Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The US Air Force has implemented the widespread use of JP-8 jet fuel in its operations, although a thorough understanding of its potential effects upon exposed personnel is unclear. Previous work has reported that JP-8 exposure is immunosuppressive. In the present study, the effects of in-utero JP-8 jet fuel exposure in mice were examined to ascertain any potential effects of jet fuel exposure on female personnel and their offspring. Exposure by the aerosol route (at 1000 mg/mm3for 1 h/day; similar to exposures incurred by flight line personnel) commencing during the first (d7 to birth) or last (d15 to birth) trimester of pregnancy was analyzed. It was observed that even 6–8 weeks after the last jet fuel exposure that the immune system of the dams (mother of newborn mice) was affected (in accordance with previous reports on normal mice). That is, thymus organ weights and viable cell numbers were decreased, and immune function was depressed. A decrease in viable male offspring was found, notably more pronounced when exposure started during the first trimester of pregnancy. Regardless of when jet fuel exposure started, all newborn mice (at 6–8 weeks after birth) reported significant immunosuppression. That is, newborn pups displayed decreased immune organ weights, decreased viable immune cell numbers and suppressed immune function. When the data were analyzed in relation to the respective mothers of the pups the data were more pronounced. Although all jet fuel-exposed pups were immunosuppressed as compared with control pups, male offspring were more affected by jet fuel exposure than female pups. Furthermore, the immune function of the newborn mice was directly correlated to the immune function of their respective mothers. That is, mothers showing the lowest immune function after JP-8 exposure gave birth to pups displaying the greatest effects of jet fuel exposure on immune function. Mothers who showed the highest levels of immune function after in-utero JP-8 exposure gave birth to pups displaying levels of immune function similar to controls animals that had the lowest levels of immune function. These data indicated that a genetic component might be involved in determining immune responses after jet fuel exposure. Overall, the data showed that in-utero JP-8 jet fuel exposure had long-term detrimental effects on newborn mice, particularly on the viability and immune competence of male offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-552
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • JP-8
  • hydrocarbon inhalation
  • immunotoxicology
  • in utero
  • jet fuel
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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