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Neurotoxicology. 2010 Sep;31(5):424-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2010.05.011. Epub 2010 Jun 4.

Alteration of infant attention and activity by polychlorinated biphenyls: unravelling critical windows of susceptibility using physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling.

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Département des sciences biologiques, TOXEN, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Pre- and postnatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can impair behavioural function in animal models at doses within the range at which humans are commonly exposed. Yet, epidemiologic studies conducted in the US and Europe are inconsistent with regard to the developmental effects of lactational exposure to these chemicals. This inconsistency may be due to limitations in the current methodological approaches for assessing postnatal exposure to PCBs. Our study used a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model to simulate blood PCB levels during specific pre- and postnatal periods and to evaluate the relation of those levels to infant behaviour. A previously validated PBPK model was used to simulate infant blood PCB-153 levels at delivery and on a month-by-month basis during the first year of life for Inuit infants enrolled in a longitudinal birth cohort. Infant behaviour was assessed using the Behaviour Rating Scales (BRS) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID-II) at 11 months of age and video coding of inattention and activity measured during the administration of the mental development subscale of the BSID-II. The estimated pre- and postnatal PCB exposure measures predicted significant increases in inattention and activity at 11 months. Whereas inattention was related to prenatal exposure, activity level, measured by non-elicited activity, was best predicted by postnatal exposure, with the strongest association obtained for simulated PCB levels during the 4th month of life. These findings are consistent with previous reports indicating PCB-induced behavioural alteration in attention and activity level. Simulated infant toxicokinetic profiles for the first year of life revealed windows of susceptibility during which PCBs may impair infant attention and activity.

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