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Although aquatic vertebrates and humans are increasingly exposed to water pollutants associated with unconventional oil and gas extraction (UOG), the long-term effects of these pollutants on immunity remains unclear. We have established the amphibian Xenopus laevis and the ranavirus Frog Virus 3 (FV3) as a reliable and sensitive model for evaluating the effects of waterborne pollutants. X. laevis tadpoles were exposed to a mixture of equimass amount of UOG chemicals with endocrine disrupting activity (0.1 and 1.0 μg/L) for 3 weeks, and then long-term effects on immune function at steady state and following viral (FV3) infection was assessed after metamorphosis. Notably, developmental exposure to the mixture of UOG chemicals at the tadpole stage affected metamorphic development and fitness by significantly decreasing body mass after metamorphosis completion. Furthermore, developmental exposure to UOGs resulted in perturbation of immune homeostasis in adult frogs, as indicated by significantly decreased number of splenic innate leukocytes, B and T lymphocytes; and a weakened antiviral immune response leading to increased viral load during infection by the ranavirus FV3. These findings suggest that mixture of UOG-associated waterborne endocrine disruptors at low but environmentally-relevant levels have the potential to induce long-lasting alterations of immune function and antiviral immunity in aquatic vertebrates and ultimately human populations.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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