Persistent effects of neonatal toluene exposure on regional brain catecholamine levels and turnover in the adult male rat

G. Von Euler, K. Fuxe, T. Hansson, P. Eneroth, Jan-Ake Gustafsson

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17 Scopus citations


Effects of neonatal toluene exposure (80 ppm, day 1-7, 6 h/day) have been studied on regional brain catecholamine levels and utilization, and on serum levels of hypophyseal and adrenocortical hormones in the adult male rat. Catecholamine levels were measured by quantitative histofluorimetry in the forebrain and hypothalamus and by high pressure liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection in the substantia nigra. Catecholamine utilization was evaluated from the decrease in catecholamines seen after tyrosine hydroxylase inhibition using α-methy-p-tyrosine methyl ester hydrochloride (αMT, 250 mg/kg, i.p., 2 h). Serum levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, corticosterone, aldosterone, prolactin and luteinizing hormone were measured by radioimmunoassays. Neonatal toluene exposure produced a reduction of dopamine levels and utilization selectively in the olfactory tubercle and substantia nigra of the adult rat. Furthermore, neonatal toluene exposure produced a significant reduction in the noradrenaline levels and utilization in the substantia nigra and an increase of noradrenaline utilization selectively in the subependymal layer of the median eminence and of the magnocellular part of the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus. The serum hormone levels were not significantly influenced by neonatal toluene exposure as evaluated in adulthood. However, the αMT induced increase in serum prolactin levels was reduced following neonatal exposure to toluene. Neonatal toluene treatment was also found to alter the responses of the catecholamine neurons to subacute toluene exposure in adulthood. In some of the dopamine nerve terminal systems of the forebrain and in the dopamine cell body containing area of the substantia nigra neonatal toluene exposure appears to have made the dopamine neurons insensitive to adult subacute toluene exposure. In the hypothalamic noradrenaline nerve terminal systems, there were even reversed responses to subacute toluene exposure. The present results indicate that neonatal toluene exposure in doses at the threshold limit value produces persistent changes in dopamine and noradreneline neurons of the forebrain, hypothalamus and substantia nigra in the presence of a relatively intact neuroendocrine system. In addition, neonatal toluene exposure appears to diminish or even counteract the responses to subacute toluene treatment in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989


  • Brain
  • Catecholamines
  • Hormones
  • Neonatal exposure
  • Toluene
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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