The teratogenicity and behavioral teratogenicity of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and di-butyl Phthalate (DBP) in a chick model
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Phthalates are industrial chemicals widely used in consumer products, plastics and children toys, and the risk of exposure to phthalates, especially prenatal exposure, is a growing concern justifying the development of an animal model to better understand their effect. The present study was designed to evaluate the suitability of a chick model for phthalate DEHP teratogenicity and neurobehavioral teratogenicity, a model which is simple and devoid of potential confounding factors such as maternal toxicity, maternal-fetal unit and maternalneonatal interactions; major findings were confirmed in the DBP study. Prehatch exposure to DEHP in doses ranging from 20 to 100 mg/kg, reduced the percent hatching from 80% in control eggs to 65%, and increased late hatchings from 12.5% in control eggs to 29.4%. In addition it induced developmental defects characterized by an opening or weakening of abdominal muscles allowing internal organs to protrude externally with or without a sac, omphalocele or gastroschisis, respectively. The effect was dose dependent ranging from 8% with DEHP (20 mg/kg) to 22% (100 mg/kg). Similar treatment with DBP 100 mg/kg has reduced percentage hatching to 57% and increased late hatching to 37.5%, with a 14% increase in gastroschisis. Biochemical evaluation revealed elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase, which reflects non-specific toxicity of DEHP at such a high dose. Behavioral evaluation using an imprinting test and locomotor activity on chicks pretreated with DEHP (100 mg/kg) has shown an abolishment of imprinting performance from the control (0.65) preference ratio. DNA damage measurements of the metabolite 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG) in blood samples showed an increase of 39.7% after prehatch exposure to phthalates. This was statistically significant for DEHP and indicates genetic toxicity, since part of the teratogenic activity is associated with oxidative stress and DNA damage.