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Modulatory effects of cadmium on the immune system of small mammals. An in vitro, in vivo and field approach
Group: Toxicology, Wageningen University
Promotor: dr ir NW van den Brink and prof. dr ir IMCM Rietjens
Cadmium is highly toxic and can act as immunotoxicant even at relatively low exposure concentrations. By affecting the immune system cadmium may reduce the host resistance to infections. Some wild rodents are reservoir hosts of zoonotic diseases (e.g. Lyme disease), potentially transmissible to humans. Because the immune status play an important role in preventing and limiting infections transmission, this project assessed the effects of cadmium on the immune responses of small mammals using a sequential approach. Cadmium showed cell-specific effects in vitro, in which some cell types were stimulated while others suppressed. Cadmium inhibited B cell proliferation, verified in mouse models by a decrease of total IgM and IgG plasma levels associated with a decrease of B cell numbers. The effects of lower humoral responses were corroborated in environmentally exposed wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). In summary, cadmium can impair humoral responses potentially leading to reduced resistance to infections.
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