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Natural organic matter does not diminish the mammalian bioavailability of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin

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  • Qi Yuan
  • J. Brett Sallach
  • Geoff Rhodes
  • Anthony Bach
  • Robert Crawford
  • Hui Li
  • Cliff T. Johnston
  • Brian J. Teppen
  • Norbert E. Kaminski
  • Stephen A. Boyd


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 20 Sep 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2020
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2021
Number of pages8
Early online date23/09/20
Original languageEnglish


2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is a toxic and persistent organic pollutant found in soils and sediments. It has been linked to several adverse health outcomes in humans and wildlife, including suppression of the immune system. TCDD is strongly sorbed to soils/sediments due to its extremely low water solubility. Presently, the bioavailability of soil/sediment-sorbed TCDD to mammals is not completely understood. Our previous studies demonstrated that TCDD adsorbed to representative inorganic geosorbents (i.e. porous silica and smectite clay) exhibited the same bioavailability to mice as TCDD dissolved in corn oil, whereas sequestration by activated carbons eliminated TCDD bioavailability. In this study, we evaluated the effects of amorphous natural organic matter (NOM), primarily in the form of aquatic humic and fulvic acids, on the mouse bioavailability of TCDD. An aqueous suspension of TCDD mixed with NOM was administered to mice via oral gavage. The relative bioavailability of TCDD was assessed by two sensitive aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated responses in mice: 1) hepatic induction of cyp1A1 mRNA; and 2) suppression of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody-forming cell (AFC) response which is an indicator of immunotoxicity. Hepatic induction of cyp1A1 mRNA and suppression of IgM AFC induced by TCDD were similar in the NOM-sorbed form and dissolved in corn oil, revealing no loss of bioavailability when associated with NOM. Hence, NOM-associated TCDD is as capable of suppressing humoral immunity in mice as TCDD dissolved in corn oil, indicating that NOM-sorbed TCDD is likely to fully retain its bioavailability to mammals and, by inference, humans.

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    Research areas

  • Amorphous natural organic matter, Bioavailability, TCDD

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