Jet fuel-induced immunotoxicity

David T. Harris, Debbie Sakiestewa, Dominic Titone, Raymond F. Robledo, R. Scott Young, Mark Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Chronic exposure to jet fuel has been shown to cause human liver dysfunction, emotional dysfunction, abnormal electroencephalograms, shortened attention spans, and to decrease sensorimotor speed (3-5). Exposure to potential environmental toxicants such as jet fuel may have significant effects on host systems beyond those readily visible (e.g., physiology, cardiology, respiratory, etc.), e.g., the immune system. Significant changes in immune function, even if short-lived, may have serious consequences for the exposed host that may impinge affect susceptibility to infectious agents. Major alterations in immune function that are long lasting may result in an increased likelihood of development and/or progression of cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases. In the current study mice were exposed 1 h/day for 7 days to a 1000-mg/m3concentration of aerosolized jet fuel obtained from various sources (JP-8, JP-8+100 and Jet A1) and of differing compositions to simulate occupational exposures. Twenty-four hours after the last exposure the mice were analyzed for effects on the immune system. It was observed that exposure to all jet fuel sources examined had detrimental effects on the immune system. Decreases in viable immune cell numbers and immune organ weights were found. Jet fuel exposure resulted in differential losses of immune cell populations in the thymus. Further, jet fuel exposure resulted in significantly decreased immune function, as analyzed by mitogenesis assays. Suppressed immune function could not be overcome by the addition of exogenous growth factors known to stimulate immune function. Thus, short-term, low-concentration exposure of mice to aerosolized jet fuel, regardless of source or composition, caused significant deleterious effects on the immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-265
Number of pages5
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2000


  • hydrocarbon inhalation
  • immunotoxicology
  • jet fuel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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