Effects of perinatal coexposure to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls on neurobehavioral development in mice

Norio Sugawara, Takashi Ohba, Kunihiko Nakai, Akiyoshi Kakita, Tomoyuki Nakamura, Keita Suzuki, Satomi Kameo, Miyuki Shimada, Naoyuki Kurokawa, Chieko Satoh, Hiroshi Satoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Methylmercury (MeHg) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are environmental pollutants that cause neurobehavioral deficits in humans. Because exposures to MeHg and PCBs occur through fish consumption, it is necessary to clarify the effects of the interaction of the two pollutants. Therefore, we investigated the effects of perinatal exposure to MeHg and PCBs on the neurobehavioral development in mice. Female mice (C57BL/6Cr) were divided into four groups according to the type of exposure: (1) vehicle control, (2) MeHg alone, (3) PCBs alone, and (4) MeHg + PCBs. The MeHg-exposed groups were fed with a diet containing 5 ppm MeHg (as Hg), from 4 weeks before mating, throughout pregnancy, and lactation. The PCB-exposed groups were given a commercial mixture of PCBs, Aroclor 1254, at 18 mg/kg body weight in corn oil by gavage every 3 days from day 5 after breeding and continued until postnatal day (PND) 20. Before weaning, an assessment of eye opening showed the interactive effects between MeHg and PCBs on PND 12: The coexposure group showed a similar response to the control group, whereas the MeHg- and PCB-exposed groups showed a high response than the former two groups. We also observed delay in development of grasp reflex by MeHg exposure on PNDs 12 and 14. When the offspring mice were 8 weeks old, the group exposed to PCBs alone showed increases in the frequencies of excrement defecation and urine traces in an open-field test. Analysis of the latency revealed the antagonistic interaction between the MeHg and PCBs: The latency increased by either MeHg or PCB exposure was decreased by coexposure. Treatment with MeHg decreased the distance walked by the mice, and MeHg interacted with PCBs. Moris' water maze test showed that the MeHg-treated mice took a long time to reach the submerged platform; however, this MeHg exposure showed no interaction with PCB exposure. The spontaneous locomotion activity of the mice was not affected by the chemical exposure at 9 weeks of age. These behavioral changes were not accompanied by any histopathological changes at the levels of the frontal cortex-caudoputamen, hippocampus-amygdala, brainstem and cerebellum. These results show that perinatal coexposure to MeHg and PCBs produces no additive or synergistic effects. This phenomenon needs to be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-397
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Aroclor 1254
  • Methylmercury
  • Mouse
  • Neurobehavioral effect
  • Open-field test
  • PCBs
  • Perinatal exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of perinatal coexposure to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls on neurobehavioral development in mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this