The immune system is gaining increasing attention as a target of toxicant action. Many compounds, including metals, drugs, and pesticides, are able to alter immune functions. Additionally, the ability of toxicants to experimentally alter resistance to a variety of bacterial, viral, and tumor challenges is suggestive for the possible involvement of toxicants in morbidity and mortality. However, the implications of immunotoxicology as a subject of study may not be fully realized in some laboratories due to unfamiliarities into the workings of immunity by toxicologists. In an attempt to bridge this toxicology-immunology gap, this paper presents the major concepts of the immune system by reviewing specific examples of immune responses and their environmental interactions. Data from selected toxins are then used to illustrate how these responses may be altered.
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