Send to

Choose Destination
Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004 May 15;197(1):49-65.

Environmental contaminant-mixture effects on CNS development, plasticity, and behavior.

Author information

Department of Pharmacology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA.


Environmental contaminants within the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) and halogenated aromatic hydrocarbon class have been shown to cross the placenta exposing the fetus to the contaminant body burden of the mother. Consequently, a gestational exposure to environmental contaminants may result in increased adverse health outcomes, possibly affecting cognitive performance. Benzo(a)pyrene [B(a)P] and 2,3,7,8, tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) are two prototypical environmental contaminants. A systematic review of the literature suggests that there may be a relationship between vulnerability in susceptible populations and health disparities. The purpose of this mini-review is to provide a point of reference for neurotoxicological studies of environmental contaminant mixture effects on indices of development in general, and on neurodevelopment in particular. Environmental contaminant-mixture-induced decrements in (1) birth index, (2) N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA) mRNA expression, (3) long-term potentiation (LTP), (4) fixed-ratio performance learning behavior, and (5) experience-dependent activity related cytoskeletal-associated protein (Arc) mRNA and protein expression collectively support associations between neurobehavioral deficits and gestational exposure to environmental levels of these contaminants. Collectively, data are presented in this mini-review evaluating the effect of gestational exposure to environmental contaminant-mixtures on specific indices of learning and memory, including hippocampal-based synaptic plasticity mechanisms. These indices serve as templates for learning and memory, and as such, from a vulnerability perspective, may serve as targets for dysregulation during development in susceptible populations that have been disproportionately exposed to these contaminants. Included in this review is also a discussion of the relevance of developing biomarkers for use within the framework of cumulative risk-assessment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center