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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1990 Jun 1;104(1):9-16.

The effect of diet and litter size on the elimination of 2,4,5,2',4',5'-[14C]hexachlorobiphenyl from lactating mice.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53295.


It was shown that 2,4,5,2',4',5'-hexachlorobiphenyl (6-CB) administered to adult female mice accumulated in their nursing offspring more rapidly than a dose administered to weanling mice when treated animals were bred at equivalent ages. This suggested that the PCB was eliminated from the maternal animal relative to its time of sequestration into storage depots. Using a model which more closely approximates conditions during human lactation, the influence of a high-fat diet and decreased litter size on this phenomenon was examined. Female ICR mice were treated with 4 mg/kg [14C]-6-CB as 13-g weanlings (dW) at 3 weeks of age or as adults (dA) at 11 weeks of age. All animals were mated at 11 weeks of age. On Day 1 of pregnancy, mice were placed on a low-fat (11.5% of the total calories) or high-fat (43.8% of total calories) diet. At parturition, litters were adjusted to either two or eight within each diet group. Elimination of maternal 6-CB was determined by assessing radioactivity in offspring carcasses on Day 15 of gestation or Day 1, 3, 5, 10, or 15 postpartum. Consumption of a high-fat diet significantly extended the t1/2 of elimination of 6-CB from mothers nursing a litter of two in the dW group (low fat = 7.3 days; high fat = 12.4 days) and in both the dW and dA groups nursing litters of eight (dW: low fat = 4.6 days; high fat = 6.8 days; and dA: low fat = 1.8 days; high fat = 3.0 days). Within diet and group, reducing litter size to two also significantly decreased the rate of elimination of 6-CB from maternal animals. 6-CB was eliminated to offspring more rapidly from the dA group when compared to the dW group regardless of diet in animals nursing litters of eight. This relationship was not observed in maternal animals nursing litters of two. In general, exposure to a high-fat diet increased the t1/2 of elimination of 6-CB from maternal animals. Reducing litter size had a greater influence and also masked the ordered mobilization of 6-CB relative to its time of sequestration. Thus, under experimental conditions which more closely mimic the human situation, 6-CB was eliminated less rapidly in the rodent, and sequential 6-CB doses were equally available to nursing offspring.

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