Treatment with Lead Chloride During Pregnancy and the Postnatal Period Alters Cell Proliferation and Immune Function in Swiss Albino Mice


In the current study, we investigated the effect of lead chloride (PbCl2) administration (50 and 100 ppm) on organ and body weight as well as its bioaccumulation during pregnancy and the postnatal period in mice. We showed that lead has no effect on the body weight of mice. However, spleen weight is affected by the two doses of PbCl2 while liver and kidney weights are altered only by the 100-ppm dose. Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) analysis showed that lead accumulates in the blood, spleen, and thymus. Both doses of PbCl2 significantly reduced splenocyte and thymocyte cell counts after stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and phytohemagglutinin A (PHA), respectively. On the other hand, we showed that the levels of Th1 cytokines (interleukin-2 (IL-2), interferon gamma (IFN-γ)), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) were reduced in the serum of mice treated with PbCl2 in a dose-dependent manner, as measured by ELISA. The levels of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) were very low in untreated mice and were also reduced by treatment with PbCl2. The levels of IL-2, IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10, and TNF-α secretion differentially decreased in LPS-stimulated splenocytes in lead-treated mice. Using PHA-stimulated thymocytes, we observed a reduction in the levels of IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, and TNF-α in the PbCl2-treated groups. However, IFN-γ concentration in the supernatant of these cells was not decreased when mice were treated with 50 ppm of lead.

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PbCl2 :

Lead(II) chloride




Phytohemagglutinin A


Interleukin 2


Interferon gamma


Interleukin 4


Interleukin 10


Tumor necrosis factor alpha


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The authors gratefully acknowledge the expert technical assistance of Pr. Mohamed EL-Baghdadi (Faculty of Sciences and Techniques, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Beni Mellal, Morocco) and Dr. Amorette Barber (Associate Professor of Biology, Longwood University, Farmville, VA, USA), for reading and editing the manuscript.


This work was supported by the “Foundation Lalla Salma: Cancer Prevention and Treatment” Rabat. Morocco. Project 9/2013.

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Correspondence to Abdelmajid Zyad.

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Ajouaoi, S., Bouchmaa, N., Idir, A. et al. Treatment with Lead Chloride During Pregnancy and the Postnatal Period Alters Cell Proliferation and Immune Function in Swiss Albino Mice. Biol Trace Elem Res 196, 195–203 (2020).

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  • PbCl2
  • Immunomodulation
  • Cell proliferation
  • Th1/Th2 balance
  • Cytokines
  • ELISA sandwich