Polychlorinated biphenyls: Correlation between in vivo and in vitro quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs)

Bryan Leece, Mary Anne Denomme, Rheal Towner, S. M.Angela Li, Stephen Safe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


The in vivo quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) for several polychlor-inated biphenyls (PCBs) were determined in the immature male Wistar rat. The ED25 and ED50 values for hepatic microsomal aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH) and ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) induction as well as for body weight loss and for thymic atrophy were determined for nine PCB congeners and 4’-bromo-2,3,4,5-tetrachlorobiphenyl. The most active compounds were the coplanar PCB congeners, 3,3’,4,4’,5-penta- and 3,3’,4,4’,5,5’-hexachlorobiphenyl; for example, their ED50 values for body weight loss were 3.25 and 15.1 μmol/kg, respectively. The in vivo toxicity of the coplanar PCB, 3,3’,4,4’-tetrachlorobiphenyl, was significantly lower (ED50 for body weight loss = 730 μmol/kg) than the values observed for the more highly chlorinated homologs, and this was consistent with the more rapid metabolism of the lower chlorinated congener. The dose-response biologic and toxic effects of several mono-ortho-chloro-substituted analogs of the coplanar PCBs, including 2,3,4,4’,5-, 2,3,3’,4,4’-, 2’,3,4,4’,5- and 2,3’,4,4’,5-penta-, 2,3,3’,4,4’,5- and 2,3,3’,4,4’,5’-hexachlorobiphenyl were also determined, and members of this group of compounds were all less toxic than 3,3’,4,4’,5-penta and 3,3’,4,4’,5,5’-hexachlorobiphenyl. There was a good rank order correlation between the in vivo QSAR data and the in vitro QSARs for PCBs that were developed from their relative receptor binding affinities and potencies as inducers of AHH and EROD in rat hepatoma H-4-II E cells in culture. These results are consistent with the proposed receptor-mediated mechanism of action for PCBs. In addition, for this series of halogenated biphenyls there was a linear correlation between their in vivo toxicity in rats and their in vitro monooxygenase enzyme induction results. Assuming that the in vivo toxic responses in the rat are representative toxic responses to PCBs, then these results support the predictive utility of the in vitro bioassay with rat hepatoma H-4-II E cells as a short-term test system for the potential toxicity of this class of halogenated aryl hydrocarbons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-388
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution


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