Evaluation of heart malformations in B6C3F1 mouse fetuses induced by in utero exposure to methyl chloride



C57BL/6 female mice impregnated by C3H male mice to produce B6C3F1 fetuses were exposed daily for six hr to atmospheres containing 0, 250, 500, or 750 ppm methyl chloride, from gestation day 6 to gestation day 18. There were 74 to 77 females with copulation plugs per exposure concentration. Females exposed to 750 ppm methyl chloride exhibited ataxia commencing on the seventh day of expsure (gestation day 12). They also showed hypersensitivity to touch or sound, tremors and convulsions. Six females in the 750 ppm group died and one was euthanized in extremis prior to scheduled sacrifice. On gestation day 18, all other females were euthanized for evaluation. Only dams exposed to 750 ppm exhibited significant decrease in body weight by gestation day 18, weight gain during the gestation period, and absolute weight gain (weight gain minus gravid uterine weight) versus controls. There were no treatment related-effects on these parameters in the other exposure groups. None of the groups exhibited exposure-related differences in pregnancy rate, gravid uterine weight, or maternal liver weight. There were no differences in the numbers of implantations, resorptions, dead fetuses, nonlive (dead plus resorbed) fetuses, live fetuses, sex-ratio, or mean fetal body weight per litter. There was a significant exposure-related increase in the number and percentage of affected (nonlive plus malformed) fetuses per litter with the incidence of affected fetuses in the 750 ppm group significantly higher than controls. There was a statistically significant increase in the incidence of heart defects in the 500 and 750 ppm group relative to controls. Of the 37 fetuses in the study with heart defects, 23 were females, 14 were males. The heart defects observed included: absent or abnormal tricuspid valve, reduced number of papillary muscles and/or chordae tendineae on the right side, small right ventricle, globular heart, and white spots in the left ventricular wall. Multiple malformations were observed in one fetus from the 500 ppm group and in three fetuses in the 750 ppm group. It is concluded that methyl chloride inhalation exposure to pregnant C57BL/6 mice from gestation day 6 through gestation day 17 resulted in maternal toxicity only at the 750 ppm exposure concentration and was teratogenic to B6C3F1 conceptuses at exposure concentrations of 750 and 500 ppm, leading to fetal heart malformations. No evidence of embryo or fetotoxicity other than teratogenicity was seen at any of the exposure concentrations employed. No maternal, embryo or fetotoxicity or teratogenicity was associated with exposure of mice, during critical periods of embryo and fetal development, to 250 ppm of methyl chloride.