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Toxicol Sci. 2000 Sep;57(1):121-30.

Gestational-lactational exposure to Aroclor 1254 impairs radial-arm maze performance in male rats.

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  • 1Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


Developmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has been associated with cognitive deficits in children. The current study assessed effects of gestational and lactational exposure to a commercial PCB mixture, Aroclor 1254 (A1254), on spatial learning and memory in rats, using the radial-arm maze (RAM). Pregnant Long-Evans females (10/dose group) were exposed to 0 or 6-mg/kg/day A1254 (po in corn oil) from gestation day (GD) 6 to weaning at postnatal day (PND) 21. After they reached adulthood, 1 male and 1 female from each litter were tested on a working/reference memory task using a 12-arm RAM. Eight of the 12 arms were baited, with the pattern of baited arms remaining the same on every trial for each rat. Compared to control males, the A1254-exposed males made significantly more working memory errors (2.15 +/- 0.13 and 3.20 +/- 0.18 errors +/- SEM for control and A1254 males, respectively) and reference memory errors (3.17 +/- 0.10 and 4.13+/-0.14 errors +/- SEM for control and A1254 males, respectively) on the RAM. In contrast, A1254-exposed females were not impaired relative to control females on the RAM. Drug challenges with dizocilpine (MK-801) and scopolamine did not differentially affect working or reference memory of control and exposed rats. These data suggest that perinatal exposure to A1254 may cause sex-specific deficits in spatial learning and memory, and that NMDA-mediated and muscarinic neurotransmission, as assessed with the drug challenges, were not markedly impaired in the A1254-exposed animals.

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