Christin MS, Ménard L, Gendron AD, Ruby S, Cyr D, Marcogliese DJ, Rollins-Smith L, Fournier M. Effects of agricultural pesticides on the immune system of Xenopus laevis and Rana pipiens. Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2004 Mar 30;67(67). 33-43. PMID: 15019249 [PubMed]
Over the last 30 years, there have been mass declines in diverse geographic locations among amphibian populations. Multiple causes have been suggested to explain this decline. Among these, environmental pollution is gaining attention. Indeed, some chemicals of environmental concern are known to alter the immune system. Given that amphibians are frequently exposed to agricultural pesticides, it is possible that these pollutants alter their immune system and render them more susceptible to different pathogens. In this study, we exposed two frog species, Xenopus laevis and Rana pipiens, for a short period of time to a mixture of pesticides (atrazine, metribuzine, endosulfan, lindane, aldicarb and dieldrin) representative in terms of composition and concentrations to what it is found in the environment of the southwest region of the province of Quebec. The pesticides were known to be present in surface water of many tributaries of the St. Lawrence River (Quebec, Canada). Our results demonstrate that the mixture of pesticides could alter the cellularity and phagocytic activity of X. laevis and the lymphocyte proliferation of R. pipiens. Taken together, these results indicate that agricultural pesticides can alter some aspects of the immune response in frogs and could contribute to their global decline by rendering them more susceptible to certain infections.