An egg injection study was conducted to confirm a proposed model of relative sensitivity of three avian species to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)-like chemicals. It was previously reported that the order of species sensitivity to in ovo exposure to TCDD, 2,3,4,7,8-pentachlorodibenzofuran (PeCDF), or 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofuran (TCDF) at doses ranging from 0.044 to 37 picomoles (pmol)/g egg was the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), and Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) based on embryo mortality and hepatic enzyme induction. In the present study, the incidence of developmental deformities, changes in body and relative organ masses, and organ pathology of hatchlings as additional indicators of species sensitivity were assessed; in addition, embryo mortality in the three species was categorized by stage of development. Embryo mortality varied temporally with significant increases generally occurring after organogenesis and just prior to hatching. A significant increase in the percentage of developmental deformities was observed only in Japanese quail exposed to TCDF. Body and relative organ masses of quail, pheasants, and chickens dosed in ovo with TCDD, PeCDF, or TCDF were not consistently affected. Chemical-related pathology occurred only in livers of quail at the greatest doses of each compound. These results indicated that the incidence of developmental deformities, changes in body and relative organ masses and organ pathology could not be used as indicators of species sensitivity or chemical potency. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011; 30:1659–1668. © 2011 SETAC
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