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Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Feb;47(2):472-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.12.003. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

Effects of the food contaminant semicarbazide following oral administration in juvenile Sprague-Dawley rats.

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Food and Veterinary Toxicology Unit, Department of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Semicarbazide (SEM) is an azodicarbonamide by-product present in glass jar packaged foods including babyfoods, in bleaching steps and flour treatment. Experimental data showed SEM acting as osteolathyrogen agent, but few toxicological data are available in susceptible life-stages. This study aimed to evaluate effects of SEM oral administration for 28 days at 0, 40, 75, 140 mg/kg bw day during the juvenile period in Sprague-Dawley rats. Histopatological examinations of: epiphyseal cartilage - potential target of SEM lathyrogen action - testes, ovary, uterus, thyroid, thymus, spleen, adrenals, representative of the main developing organs relevant to juvenile toxicity, and neurobehavioural tests in males, were performed. Mortality at high and mid dose levels and significantly decreased body weight gain were observed in males even at the lowest dose. Lack of mineralization in cartilage at all dose levels was present. Marked alterations of spontaneous motor and exploratory behaviours were evident even at 40 mg/kg. Histological alterations were observed in all tissues; thyroid and ovary effects were present also at 40 mg/kg. The present study indicate that the NOAEL in juvenile rats is lower than 40 mg/kg for SEM oral administration. SEM administration during juvenile period exerted pleiotropic effects and further studies are suggested to elucidate mechanisms.

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