Short-term exposure to JP-8 jet fuel results in longterm immunotoxicity

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Chronic exposure to jet fuel has been shown to have adverse effects on human liver function, to cause emotional dysfunction, to cause abnormal electroencephalograms, to cause shortened attention spans, and to decrease sensorimotor speed. Due to the decision by the United States Air Force to implement the widespread use of JP-8 jet fuel in its operations, a thorough understanding of its potential effects upon exposed personnel is both critical and necessary. Exposure to potential environmental toxicants such as JP-8 may have significant effects on host systems beyond those readily visible (i.e., physiology, cardiology, respiratory, etc.); e.g., the immune system. Previous studies have shown that short-term, low concentration JP-8 exposure had significant effects on the immune system, which should have serious consequences for the exposed host in terms of susceptibility to infectious agents. If these alterations in immune function were long-lasting, it might also result in an increased likelihood of development and/or progression of cancer, as well as autoimmune disease. In the current study, mice were exposed for 1 hlday for 7 days to a moderate (1000 mg/m3) and a high (2500 mg/m3) concentration of aerosolized JP-8 jet fuel to simulate occupational exposures. One to 28 days after the last exposure the mice were analyzed for effects of the exposure on their immune systems. It was observed that decreases in viable immune cell numbers and immune organ weights found at 24 h after exposure persisted for extended periods of time. Further, JP-8 exposure resulted in significantly decreased immune function, as analyzed by mitogenesis assays, which persisted for up to 4 weeks post-exposure. Thus, short-term exposure of mice to JP-8 jet fuel caused significant toxicological effects on the immune system, which were long-lasting and persistent. It appears that the immune system may be the most sensitive indicator of toxicological damage due to JP-8 exposure. Such long-term changes in immune status may have significant effects on the health of the exposed individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-570
Number of pages12
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • A/V
  • B6
  • C57B1/6 mice
  • Con A
  • FACS
  • Fluorescence activated cell sorter
  • GC
  • IL 2
  • SEM
  • SI
  • aerosol/vapor mass
  • concanavalin A
  • gas chromatograph
  • interleukin 2
  • mAbs
  • monoclonal antibodies
  • standard error of the mean
  • stimulation index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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