Reconstituted halogenated hydrocarbon pesticide and pollutant mixtures found in human tissues: Effects on the immature male Wistar rat after short-term exposure

J. Gyorkos, M. A. Denomme, B. Leece, K. Homonko, V. E. Valli, S. Safe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Halogenated hydrocarbon insecticides and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixtures are routinely detected as residues in human adipose tissue, serum, and milk. Based on average values observed in analytical studies, reconstituted halogenated hydrocarbon pesticide mixtures and PCB mixtures were prepared and administered to immature male Wistar rats. The mixtures were administered at dose levels which approximate the concentrations which would be absorbed by an infant suckling for 180 days (low dose, L), and at three higher dose levels (2 x L, 10 x L, and 100 x L). The pesticide mixture contained isomeric hexachlorocyclohexanes, dieldrin, heptachlor epoxide, oxychlordane, trans-nonachlor, hexachlorobenzene, 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane, 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane, and 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene; the reconstituted PCB mixture contained 13 of the major congeners which have been identified in human milk samples. Administration of the L dose level of the pesticide (0.95 mg/kg), PCB (0.45 mg/kg), and pesticide plus PCB mixture (0.95 ± 0.45 mg/kg, respectively) in corn oil on days 1 and 3 did not significantly alter hepatic drug-metabolizing enzyme activities or elicit any observable pathological damage 6 days after the first exposure. In contrast, administration of the higher dose levels of this mixture elicited a dose-dependent induction of several hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes. Moreover, despite the short duration of exposure to these chemicals, the rats treated with the higher doses (10 x L and 100 x L) of these mixtures exhibited mild alterations in thyroid architecture, changes in hepatocellular nuclei including variations in chromatin distribution, vesiculation of larger nuclei, and frequent appearance of pyknotic shrunen nuclei. In addition there were changes in hepatocellular cytoplasm organization including vacuolations and mild zonal variations in volume. The results clearly indicate that relatively low doses of the pesticides and pollutant mixtures commonly found in human breast milk can elicit significant biologic and toxic effects in the immature male Wistar rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-43
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology (medical)


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