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Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2009 Jan;61(1):1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.etp.2008.06.008. Epub 2008 Sep 6.

Characterization of liver toxicity in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice after exposure to a flame retardant containing lower molecular weight polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

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National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, P.O. Box 12233, NC 27709, USA.


Lower molecular weight polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), components of flame retardants, are found in the environment and in human and animal tissues. Toxicity studies were conducted in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice by administering a flame retardant containing these lower molecular weight PBDEs (BDE-47, BDE-99, BDE-100, and BDE153) by oral gavage 5 days/week for 13 weeks at doses of 0.01, 5, 50, 100 or 500mg/kg/day. Liver was the primary target organ in rats and mice. Treatment-related increases in liver weights, liver cytochrome P450 (1A1, 1A2, 2B) and UDPGT (rats only) levels, and liver lesions were seen in both rats and mice. Hepatocyte hypertrophy and vacuolization increased in incidence and severity with treatment, and occurred at levels of 50mg/kg and above in rats, and at 100mg/kg and above in mice. Liver Cyp 1A1, 1A2, and 2B levels were increased at exposure levels of 50mg/kg and above in rats and mice. In addition, treatment-related thyroid lesions occurred particularly in rats. The most sensitive parameter for PBDE toxicity was the increase in liver weights which occurred at 5mg/kg above in rats and 50mg/kg and above in mice. These results suggest that liver may be a target organ for carcinogenesis processes after long-term administration of PBDEs. A chronic PBDE study is currently being conducted by the National Toxicology Program.

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