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Clin Toxicol. 1981 Dec;18(12):1357-67.

Experimental neurotoxicity and urinary metabolites of the C5-C7 aliphatic hydrocarbons used as glue solvents in shoe manufacture.


Rats were intermittently exposed (9 to 10 h/d, 5 to 6 d/week) to controlled concentrations of single analytical grad solvents in ambient air. After periods ranging from 7 to 30 weeks the animals were perfused with glutaraldehyde and samples of nerves were processed for light microscopy of sections and of teased fibers. Animals treated with n-hexane at 5000 ppm (14 weeks) or 2500 ppm (30 weeks) developed the typical giant axonal degeneration already described in rats treated continuously with 400 to 600 ppm of the same solvent for 7 weeks or more. No such alterations were found in rats subjected to the following intermittent respiratory treatments: n-hexane 500 ppm (30 weeks) or 1500 ppm (14 weeks), cyclohexane 1500 or 2500 (30 weeks), n-pentane 3000 ppm (30 weeks), n-heptane 1500 ppm (30 weeks), 2-methylpentane 1500 ppm (14 weeks), and 3-methylpentane 1500 ppm (14 weeks). The following metabolites were found in the urine of rats according to treatment (in parenthesis): 2-methyl-2-pentanol (2-methylpentane); 3-methyl-2-pentanol and 3-methyl-3-pentanol (3-methylpentane), 2-hexanol, 3-hexanol, gamma-valerolactone, 2,5-dimethylfuran, and 2,5-hexanedione (n-hexane). 2-Hexanol was found to be the main urinary metabolite of n-hexane, while 2,5-hexanedione was present only in a lesser proportion. This feature of rat metabolism suggests that in this species 2,5-hexanedione reaches an effective level at its site of action during intermittent respiratory treatment with n-hexane with difficulty and explains the high concentrations necessary to cause polyneuropathy in rats subjected to this treatment.

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