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Toxicologic and immunologic effects of perinatal exposure to the brominated diphenyl ether (BDE) mixture DE-71 in the Sprague-Dawley rat



Brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs) are persistent environmental contaminants found in human blood, tissues, and milk. To assess the impact of the commercial BDE mixture DE-71 on the developing immune system in relation to hepatic and thyroid changes, adult (F0) rats were exposed to DE-71 by gavage at doses of 0, 0.5, 5, or 25 mg/kg body weight (bw)/d for 21 weeks. F0 rats were bred and exposure continued through gestation, lactation and postweaning. F1 pups were weaned and exposed to DE-71 by gavage from postnatal day (PND) 22 to 42. On PND 42, half of the F1 rats were assessed for toxicologic changes. The remaining F1 rats were challenged with the T-dependent antigen keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and immune function was assessed on PND 56. Dose-dependent increases in total BDE concentrations were detected in the liver and adipose of all F0 and F1 rats. In F0 rats, increased liver weight, hepatocellular hypertrophy, and decreased serum thyroxine (T4) were characteristic of DE-71 exposure. In F1 rats perinatal DE-71 exposure caused a nondose-dependent increase in body weight and dose-dependent increases in liver weight and hepatocellular hypertrophy. Serum T3 and T4 levels were decreased. In spleen from DE-71 exposed rats the area occupied by B cells declined while the area occupied by T cells increased; however, cellular and humoral immune responses to KLH challenge were not altered. Thus hepatic and thyroid changes in rats exposed perinatally to DE-71 were associated with altered splenic lymphocyte populations, an effect which has been linked to hypothyroidism. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol, 2013.