Is Agent Orange the real cause of Systemic Lupus?

Birth Defect Research for Children

July 7, 2009

Dear Sharon,

It was very nice talking with you today, but I was sorry to hear that you have developed systemic lupus.

Here is a web site where another daughter of a Vietnam veteran is wanting to find others with lupus.

In this Agent Orange Update, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) was asked to look a lupus as a possible outcome of Agent Orange exposure.

I am looking through the medical literature for studies that may link lupus to prenatal exposure to Agent Orange or its ingredients 2-45T, 2-4D (two herbicides) and the contaminant TCDD (dioxin).

I found one study where the offspring of female mice who were exposed to TCDD (dioxin) developed a severe lupus-like autoimmune disease.

: Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2009 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print] Links

Developmental exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin alters postnatal T cell phenotypes and T cell function and exacerbates autoimmune lupus in 24-week-old SNF(1) mice.
Mustafa A, Holladay SD, Goff M, Witonsky S, Kerr R, Weinstein DA, Karpuzoglu-Belgin E, Gogal RM Jr.

The study below gives the increased prevalence of lupus in African Americans, but does not suggest that this is a hereditary factor alone. The author suggests that environmental factors interacting with genes should be studied.

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1990 Aug;16(3):617-39.Links

Systemic lupus erythematosus.
Hochberg MC.

Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Descriptive epidemiologic studies of SLE have been conducted worldwide; the most extensive data are available for Scandinavia, especially Sweden, and the United States. In the United States, blacks have threefold higher incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates compared with whites; the reasons for this excess, however, remain unknown. Analytic and genetic epidemiologic studies suggest a multifactorial etiology of SLE; results support a polygenic mode of inheritance including important roles for an autosomal dominant "autoimmune" gene and female sex hormones. Although a viral etiology remains attractive, there is little evidence to support such a hypothesis. Rather, other environmental factors including chemical exposures may be important as "triggers" of disease. Finally, observational epidemiologic studies demonstrate an increasingly favorable prognosis for patients with SLE, allowing a better understanding of long-term morbidity and impact on overall health status. Future epidemiologic studies should focus on identifying noninfectious environmental etiologic factors and improving the quality of life for all patients with SLE.

PMID: 2217961 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

This is what I have been able to find so far. I will look some more tomorrow, but I wanted to get some information to you today.

With best regards,


Betty Mekdeci

Executive Director

Birth Defect Research for Children

800 Celebration Ave., Suite 225

Celebration FL 34747

407-566-8304 Fax 407-566-8341

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