experimental studies of those chemicals, unless otherwise noted, were conducted with pure chemicals, in contrast with the epidemiologic studies discussed in later chapters, in which exposures were often to mixtures of chemicals.
This chapter begins with a brief summary of major conclusions presented in previous Veterans and Agent Orange reports regarding the toxicology of the compounds of interest. That summary is followed by what makes up the majority of the chapter, overviews and discussions of the relevant experimental studies that have been published on 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, picloram, cacodylic acid, and TCDD since Update 2000. Within the update for each of the chemicals, the experimental studies investigating the toxicokinetics, mechanisms of action, and disease outcomes of exposure to the chemical are discussed. Where appropriate, the mechanisms of action are discussed as they relate to a particular endpoint. Estimating potential human health risks on the basis of the animal data is then discussed.
Chapter 4 of VAO and Chapter 3 of Update 1996, Update 1998, and Update 2000 review the results of animal and in vitro studies published through 2000 that investigate the toxicokinetics, mechanism of action, and disease outcomes of the herbicides used in Vietnam, and the contaminant TCDD. The toxicity of the four herbicides has not been studied extensively, but in general they are not considered particularly toxic because high concentrations are usually required to modulate cellular and biochemical processes. In contrast, the toxicity of TCDD has been studied extensively. On the basis of the experimental data reviewed in previous Agent Orange reports, the committees concluded that TCDD elicits a diverse spectrum of sex-, strain-, age-, and species-specific effects, including carcinogenesis, immunotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, hepatotoxicity, neurotoxicity, chloracne, and loss of body weight. The scientific consensus is that TCDD is not directly genotoxic and that its ability to influence the carcinogenic process is mediated by epigenetic events, such as enzyme induction, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and intracellular communication. Most, if not all, of TCDD's effects are mediated through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), which interacts with other proteins, binds to DNA and results in biochemical effects, including enzyme induction.
Toxicokinetics (also referred to as pharmacokinetics) pertains to the routes and rates of uptake, tissue distribution, transformation, and elimination of a toxicant. Those processes, in part, determine the amount of a particular chemical that reaches potential target organs or cells and thereby influences toxicity to organs