A T-dependent antibody response evaluation in CD-1 mice after an acute whole-body inhalation exposure to nickel (II) chloride hexahydrate
Nickel (Ni) in ambient air may vary regionally with contributions from both natural processes and anthropogenic activities. Exposure to Ni compounds in ambient air above a certain level is associated with acute adverse effects, such as upper respiratory tract irritation, pneumonitis, and chronic adverse effects, such as respiratory cancer. Inhalation reference exposure standards are enacted in different jurisdictions to minimize exposures to ambient Ni above levels that can elicit adverse effects. This paper reports a guideline-/GLP-compliant study designed for setting inhalation exposure standards to protect from immunological effects associated with acute exposure to Ni. Female CD-1 mice were exposed via whole-body inhalation to aerosolized nickel chloride hexahydrate for 24-hr at nominal (vs. mean analyzed) concentrations of 20 (16), 50 (44) and 100 (81) µg Ni/m3. Host T-cell antibody immunological responses to intravenously-injected sheep red blood cells were then measured ex vivo in an Antibody-Forming Cell (AFC) assay. Exposure to the Ni substance significantly decreased spleen cell levels by 33%, but this was within biological variability for outbred mice. No concurrent decreases in spleen, thymus, or body weights were noted. No immunosuppression was observed with the Ni substance in the context of Total Spleen Activity [IgM AFC/spleen (× 103)] and Specific Activity [IgM AFC/spleen cells (× 106)]. Significant concentration-independent increases in Total Spleen Activity and Specific Activity seen with the nickel chloride hexahydrate were normal and within biological variability for outbred mice. In contrast, cyclophosphamide (positive control) significantly decreased spleen cell numbers, spleen and thymus weights, and abolished Specific Activity and Total Spleen Activity. Based on results here, an NOAEC of 81 µg Ni/m3 for immunosuppressive effects from inhaled nickel chloride hexahydrate was identified. It is hoped this value can be used to derive a reference standard for human exposure to ambient Ni.