Protection from JP-8 jet fuel induced immunotoxicity by administration of aerosolized substance P

David T. Harris, Debbie Sakiestewa, Raymond F. Robledo, Mark Witter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Chronic exposure to jet fuel has been shown to cause human liver dysfunction, emotional dysfunction, abnormal electroencephalograms, shortened attention spans, and decreased sensorimotor speed. The United States Air Force has decided to implement the widespread use of JP-8 jet fuel in its operations, although a thorough understanding of its potential effects upon exposed personnel is unclear. Exposure to potential environmental toxicants such as JP-8 may have significant effects on host physiology. Previous studies in mice have shown that short-term, low concentration JP-8 exposure had significant effects on the immune system; e.g., decreased viable immune cell numbers, decreased immune organ weights, and loss of immune function that persisted for extended periods of time (i.e., up to 4 weeks post-exposure). Previous studies have shown that JP-8 induced pulmonary dysfunction was associated with a decrease in levels of the neuropeptide substance P (SP) in lung lavage fluids. It was found that administration of aerosolized SP was able to protect exposed animals from such JP-8 induced pulmonary changes. In the current study, aerosolized SP was analyzed for its effects on JP-8 induced immunotoxicity in exposed mice. It was observed that SP administration could protect JP-8 exposed animals from losses of viable immune cell numbers, but not losses in immune organ weights. Further, exposure of animals to SP inhibitors generally increased the immunotoxicity of JP-8 exposure. SP appeared to act on all immune cell populations equally as analyzed by flow cytometry, as no one immune cell population appeared to be preferentially protected by SP. Also, SP administration was capable of protecting JP-8 exposed animals from loss of immune function at all concentrations of JP-8 utilized (250-2500 mg/m3). Significantly, SP only needed to be administered for 15 minutes after JP-8 exposure, and was active at both 1 uM and 1 nM concentrations. Thus, SP administration appears to be a relatively simple and efficient means to reverse the immunotoxicity due to hydrocarbon exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-588
Number of pages18
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • A/V
  • B6
  • C57B1/6 mice
  • Con A
  • FACS
  • GC
  • IL 2
  • Met(O2)]-Substance P
  • SEM
  • SI
  • SP
  • aerosol/vapor mass
  • concanavalin A
  • fluorescence activated cell sorter
  • gas chromatograph
  • interleukin 2
  • mAbs
  • monoclonal antibodies
  • standard error of the mean
  • stimulation index
  • substance P or the bioactive analog [Sar9

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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