The prevalence of iron (Fe) deficiency and subclinical lead (Pb) toxicity is high in developing countries like India, and information on their potential additive effects on immune responses is scant. The current study assessed immune parameters in dual Pb-exposedFe-deficient weanling SD rats. Rats were fed a control (CD) or Fe-deficient (ID) diet for 4 weeks and then evaluated for hemoglobin (Hb) and serum Fe status. Then, half the rats in each group began to receive daily oral Pb exposure (25 mg/4 ml/kg BW; gavage) or vehicle for a further 4 weeks (while maintained on original respective diets). After the 4-weeks of dosing, rats were assessed for Hb and serum Fe, and for blood lead level (BLL) and δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) activity. At this point, half the rats in each group (now  = 8) were then vaccinated with tetanus toxoid (TT), and then two boosters at 2-week intervals. All the time, rats stayed on their original respective diets along with exposure to Pb on alternate days. At 2 weeks after the final booster, rats were euthanized and blood collected to assess total/specific IgG and IgM levels; mucosal (intestinal) IgA levels were also determined. Spleens were taken to assess CD4 and CD8 cell levels and for measures of splenocyte proliferation/T1 and T2 cytokine formation. The results indicated significant lowering of Hb and serum Fe levels in ID rats and increased blood Pb and decreased ALAD activity in all Pb-exposed rats. Fe-deficiency alone induced significant increases in ALAD activity, but only in an absence of Pb. While there was no impact of any regimen on total or TT-specific IgG, significant decreases in mucosal IgA and TT-specific IgM were seen in ID-fed Pb-exposed rats. CD4 cell levels were not impacted by treatment; CD8 levels were increased in all ID/Pb-exposed rats. splenocyte proliferation was significantly higher among vaccinated rats, as well as ID-fed Pb-exposed unvaccinated rats. Cytokine formation in all cases was highly variable. The results suggest that Fe deficiency compromised cell-mediated, mucosal, and/or humoral immune response-related endpoints and that Pb exposure during the deficiency further impacted these outcomes.

References

PubMed