Mammalian Biologic and Toxic Effects of PCBs

Conference paper
Part of the Environmental Toxin Series book series (TOXIN SERIES, volume 1)


This review outlines the mammalian toxicology of PCBs and several classes of related halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons that are persistent environmental contaminants. PCBs comprise 209 chlorinated derivatives of biphenyl, and the toxicology of the individual PCB isomers and congeners is emphasized. Structure-activity relationships for many of the toxic and biochemical effects of PCBs are described. The qualitative aspects of the toxic and biologic effects of PCBs are highly dependent both on the degree of chlorination of the biphenyl nucleus, and the position of the chlorine atoms (i.e., whether they are ortho, meta or para to the phenyl-phenyl bridge). For example, certain PCB isomers and congeners resemble phenobarbital in their ability to induce rat liver microsomal cytochrome P-450b, whereas others resemble 3-methylcholanthrene in their ability to induce cytochrome P-450c. Furthermore, several PCB isomers and congeners exhibit properties of both these chemicals, and can induce both forms of cytochrome P-450. The ability of certain PCBs to induce cytochrome P-450c is apparently mediated by a high affinity, low capacity cytosolic receptor protein. The affinity with which individual PCBs bind to this receptor follows the same rank order as the potency with which they induce cytochrome P-450c. Furthermore, the affinity with which PCBs and other halogenated hydrocarbons bind to the cytosolic receptor correlates well with their toxic potency. However, a detailed mechanism of toxicity of PCBs and related compounds has not emerged.


Epoxide Hydrolase Thymic Atrophy Toxic Potency Coplanar PCBs Liver Microsomal Cytochrome 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and TherapeuticsKansas University Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary Physiology and PharmacologyTexas A&M University, College of Veterinary MedicineCollege StationUSA

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