The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)


Impact of environmental tobacco smoke on immune function in urban Missouri children with elevated blood lead levels

MEGAN E. DUNCANSON1, RACHEL E. NEAL2, LINDSEY A. WOOD3, BETHANY JOHNSON2, BLAKE MANION2, TERRY J. WILSON4 and PAULA M. LUTZ4,5.

1Anthropology, University of Louisville, 2Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Louisville, 3Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Louisville, 4Biological Sciences, Missouri University of Science and Technology, 5Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Lead (Pb) and environmental tobacco smoke exposure (ETS) constitute two of the most common environmental developmental toxins. Cigarettes contain heavy metals including Pb; thus, ETS exposure may be linked to increased blood lead (PbB) levels. Elevated PbB levels in children are linked to immunological, behavioral, and cognitive deficits. Children under 6 years of age are more susceptible to the effects of Pb, especially children between 12-24 months who also exhibit oral exploratory behavior resulting in higher environmental Pb exposure. In a limited number of studies focusing on children, an association of elevated PbB levels with altered immune system function has been reported, and the effects on immune function may be age-dependent. The current study examined the effect of elevated PbB levels in the presence/absence of ETS (Pb+ETS, Pb-only, ETS-only), on immune system function in a cohort of 523 children (aged 5 months to 12 years) from two urban centers of Missouri (St. Louis and Springfield). A blood sample was taken and PbB levels were determined by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The average PbB level was 12.9 µg/dL. Cell counts, IgE levels, and sCD25+ concentrations were analyzed. The statistically significant correlation of IgE and PbB, as well as the differences in IgE between PbB risk classes reported in our earlier studies are confirmed in the complete cohort. Certain immune parameters were found to be associated with age as well. We interpret the current findings as potentially indicative of generalized Pb-exposure induced increase in lymphocyte activation of both T-cell and B-cells.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [R01 ES06065, R21 DA027466, P30 ES014443, P20 RR017702, and P20 GM103453].