2015 SOT FDA Colloquium: Immunotoxicology in Food and Ingredient Safety Assessment: Approaches and Case Studies

The Society of Toxicology in conjunction with the US FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) have partnered to provide this colloquia series. The series presents scientific information that is high-quality, cutting-edge, future-oriented toxicological science to provide a well-grounded foundation to inform the work of US FDA employees.

On April 14, 2015, SOT and US FDA co-hosted a colloquium focused on the methods used in safety assessment of substances present in foods that may target the immune system. The colloquium began with a brief overview of the cells and soluble mediators critical to immune function and the tiered testing strategies used to identify substances that may target immune effectors. Following this introduction, experts provided a state of the art review of methodological approaches using case studies to elucidate how immunotoxicology data can be used in assessing the safety of ingested materials.

The immune system is a complex set of cellular, chemical, and soluble mediators that protects the body against foreign substances. Immunotoxicology is the subdiscipline of toxicology that focuses on unintended modulation of the immune system following exposure to environmental chemicals or therapeutics. Adverse effects may include immunosuppression, immunostimulation, allergic hypersensitivity, or autoimmunity, and may result in outcomes such as increased incidences of infectious diseases or neoplastic diseases, allergy/asthma, or autoimmune diseases, respectively. The majority of immunotoxicity testing efforts to date have focused on the potential for xenobiotics to suppress immune function or induce dermal sensitization. With the increased use and development of immune-based or immune-targeted therapeutic proteins, unintended stimulation of the immune system has also become an area of concern.