The effect of exposure to crude oil on the immune system. Health implications for people living near oil exploration activities

Pauline McLoone, Olzhas Dyussupov, Zhaxybek Nurtlessov, Ussen Kenessariyev, Dinara Kenessary

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


People who reside near oil exploration activities may be exposed to toxins from gas flares or oil spills. The impact of such exposures on the human immune system has not been fully investigated. In this review, research investigating the effects of crude oil on the immune system is evaluated. The aim was to obtain a greater understanding of the possible immunological impact of living near oil exploration activities. In animals, the effect of exposure to crude oil on the immune system depends on the species, dose, exposure route, and type of oil. Important observations included; hematological changes resulting in anemia and alterations in white blood cell numbers, lymph node and splenic atrophy, genotoxicity in immune cells, modulation of cytokine gene expression and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. In humans, there are reports that exposure to crude oil can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer and cause immunomodulation. Abbreviations: A1AT: alpha-1 antitrypsin; ACH50: hemolytic activity of the alternative pathway; AHR: aryl hydrocarbon receptor; BALF: bronchoalveolar lavage fluid; COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; CYP: cytochrome P450; DNFB: 2, 4-dinitro-1-fluorobenzene; G-CSF: granulocyte-colony stimulating factor; IFN: interferon; IL: interleukin; 8-IP: 8-isoprostane; ISG15: interferon stimulated gene; LPO: lipid peroxidation; LTB4: leukotriene B4; M-CSF: macrophage-colony stimulating factor; MMC: melanomacrophage center; MPV: mean platelet volume; NK: natural killer; OSPM: oil sail particulate matter; PAH: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; PBMC: peripheral blood mononuclear cell; PCV: packed cell volume; RBC: red blood cell; ROS: reactive oxygen species; RR: relative risk; TH: T helper; TNF: tumour necrosis factor; UV: ultraviolet; VNNV: Viral Nervous Necrosis Virus; WBC: white blood cell.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Health Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019


  • Crude oil
  • communities
  • immune modulation
  • pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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