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Autoimmune Diseases
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 982073, 12 pages
Research Article

Differential Immunotoxicity Induced by Two Different Windows of Developmental Trichloroethylene Exposure

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, 13 Children’s Way, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA

Received 1 October 2013; Revised 19 November 2013; Accepted 20 November 2013; Published 20 February 2014

Academic Editor: Aristo Vojdani

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen M. Gilbert et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Developmental exposure to environmental toxicants may induce immune system alterations that contribute to adult stage autoimmune disease. We have shown that continuous exposure of MRL+/+ mice to trichloroethylene (TCE) from gestational day (GD) 0 to postnatal day (PND) 49 alters several aspects of CD4+ T cell function. This window of exposure corresponds to conception-adolescence/young adulthood in humans. More narrowly defining the window of TCE developmental exposure causes immunotoxicity that would establish the stage at which avoidance and/or intervention would be most effective. The current study divided continuous TCE exposure into two separate windows, namely, gestation only (GD0 to birth (PND0)) and early-life only (PND0-PND49). The mice were examined for specific alterations in CD4+ T cell function at PND49. One potentially long-lasting effect of developmental exposure, alterations in retrotransposon expression indicative of epigenetic alterations, was found in peripheral CD4+ T cells from both sets of developmentally exposed mice. Interestingly, certain other effects, such as alterations in thymus cellularity, were only found in mice exposed to TCE during gestation. In contrast, expansion of memory/activation cell subset of peripheral CD4+ T cells were only found in mice exposed to TCE during early life. Different windows of developmental TCE exposure can have different functional consequences.