Dermal application of jet fuel suppresses secondary immune reactions

Gerardo Ramos, Dat X. Nghiem, Jeffrey P. Walterscheid, Stephen E. Ullrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Applying military jet fuel (JP-8) to the skin of mice activates systemic immune suppression. In all of our previous experiments, JP-8 was applied to immunologically naïve mice. The effect of jet fuels on established immune reactions, such as immunological memory, is unknown. The focus of the experiments presented here was to test the hypothesis that jet fuel exposure [both JP-8 and commercial jet fuel (Jet-A)] suppresses established immune reactions. Mice were immunized with the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans and, at different times after immunization (10 to 30 days), various doses of undiluted JP-8 or Jet-A were applied to their skin. Both the elicitation of delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) (mice challenged 10 days after immunization) and immunological memory (mice challenged 30 days after immunization) were significantly suppressed in a dose-dependent manner. Dermal exposure to either multiple small doses (50 μl over 4 days) or a single large dose (≈200-300 μl) of JP-8 and/or Jet-A suppressed DTH to C. albicans. The mechanism by which dermal application of JP-8 and Jet-A suppresses immunological memory involves the release of immune biologic response modifiers. Blocking the production of prostaglandin E2 by a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor (SC 236) significantly reversed jet fuel-induced suppression of immunologic memory. These findings indicate, for the first time, that dermal exposure to commercial jet fuel (Jet-A) suppresses the immune response. In addition, the data reported here expand on previous findings by suggesting that jet fuel exposure may depress the protective effect of prior vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-144
Number of pages9
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Delayed-type hypersensitivity
  • Immune suppression
  • Immunotoxicity
  • JP-8
  • Jet-A
  • Prostaglandin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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