Neurotoxicity Research

, 3:557 | Cite as

Behavioral effects induced by acute exposure to benzo(a)pyrene in F-344 rats

  • Crystal R. Saunders
  • Dolores C. Shockley
  • Maurice E. Knuckles


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are highly persistent environmental pollutants which pose potential adverse effects on human health. Benzo(a)-pyrene (B(a)P) is the prototypical representative of these widely dispersed lipophilic contaminants. (B(a)P) exposure in experimental animals results in an array of tissue- and organ-specific responses including carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, reproductive and immunotoxicity. However, no previous studies have examined the potential neuro-behavioral toxicity of B(a)Pin vivo. The present study was conducted to investigate the behavioral effects induced by single oral doses of (B(a)P) in 8-week-old male and female F-344 rats. Rats were exposed to 0, 12.5, 25, 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg of B(a)P by oral gavage. Motor activity measurements and the functional observational battery (FOB) were used to assess behavioral changes induced by B(a)P at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 24, 48, 72 and 96 h post treatment. Statistical analyses revealed significant (p < 0.001) dose, sex and time interactions. (B(a)P) doses ranging from 25 to 200 mg/kg produced a significant suppression (up to 60%) in four motor activity parameters: horizontal activity, total distance, stereotype and vertical activity in both sexes within 2 and 4h of dosing. B(a)P treated male and female animals also showed significant (p < 0.001) changes in neuromuscular, autonomic, sensorimotor and physiological functions within 2 and 4h post B(a)P administration except in the 12.5 mg/kg treatment group. The 12.5 mg/kg dose did not produce significant (p > 0.05) behavioral toxicity in either males or females.

All treated animals (25–200 mg/kg) recovered from the toxic effects of B(a)P by 72 h. Significant (p < 0.05) gender differences were noted in FOB tests measures with males displaying greater sensitivity to B(a)P. These data suggest that motor activity and FOB measurements can be used as indices to detect B(a)P neurotoxicity.


Benzo(a)pyrene (B(a)P) locomotor activity functional observational battery (FOB) neurotoxicity behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Crystal R. Saunders
    • 1
  • Dolores C. Shockley
    • 1
  • Maurice E. Knuckles
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyMeharry Medical CollegeNashvilleUSA

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