Long-lasting neurobehavioral effects of prenatal exposure to xylene in rats
Hass, U.; Lund, S.P.; Simonsen, L.
Neurotoxicology 18(2): 547-551
The persistence of neurobehavioral effects in female rats (Mol:WIST) exposed to 500 ppm technical xylene (dimethylbenzene, CAS-no 1330-20-7) for 6 hours per day on days 7-20 of prenatal development was studied. The dose level was selected so as not to induce maternal toxicity or decreased viability of offspring. Investigations of learning and memory abilities were performed using a Morris water maze. This task requires rats to spatially navigate, using distal extramaze cues to locate a small platform under the surface of the water in a large pool. At the age of 16 weeks, the exposed offspring showed impairments when the platform was relocated in the pool. Impaired performances after platform relocation were also observed in exposed offspring at 28 and 55 weeks of age, although the difference was not statistically significant at 55 weeks. These data could indicate that the effect was partly reversible, although over a long time period. However, another explanation could be that the animals became more practised at solving the problem (finding the platform) as continued testing occurred and therefore were able to compensate for the neurotoxic effect of the prenatal xylene exposure. Further studies are planned to investigate whether neurobehavioral effects resulting from prenatal xylene exposure can interact with neurophysiological aging processes.