Behavioral changes following PCB 153 exposure in the Spontaneously Hypertensive rat - an animal model of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder


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Behavioral and Brain Functions;10(1)


BioMed Central

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Background Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder affecting 3-5% of children. Although ADHD is highly heritable, environmental factors like exposure during early development to various toxic substances like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may contribute to the prevalence. PCBs are a group of chemical industrial compounds with adverse effects on neurobiological and cognitive functioning, and may produce behavioral impairments that share significant similarities with ADHD. The present study examined the relation between exposure to PCB 153 and changes in ADHD-like behavior in an animal model of ADHD, the spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR/NCrl), and in Wistar Kyoto (WKY/NHsd) controls. Methods SHR/NCrl and WKY/NHsd, males and females, were orally given PCB 153 dissolved in corn oil at around postnatal day (PND) 8, 14, and 20 at a dosage of 1, 3 or 6 mg/kg bodyweight at each exposure. The control groups were orally administered corn oil only. The animals were behaviorally tested for exposure effects from PND 37 to 64 using an operant procedure. Results Exposure to PCB 153 was associated with pronounced and long-lasting behavioral changes in SHR/NCrl. Exposure effects in the SHR/NCrl depended on dose, where 1 mg/kg tended to reduce ADHD-like behaviors and produce opposite behavioral effects compared to 3 mg/kg and 6 mg/kg, especially in the females. In the WKY/NHsd controls and for the three doses tested, PCB 153 exposure produced a few specific behavioral changes only in males. The data suggest that PCB 153 exposure interacts with strain and sex, and also indicate a non-linear dose–response relation for the behaviors observed. Conclusions Exposure to PCB 153 seems to interact with several variables including strain, sex, dose, and time of testing. To the extent that the present findings can be generalized to humans, exposure effects of PCB 153 on ADHD behavior depends on amount of exposure, where high doses may aggravate ADHD symptoms in genetically vulnerable individuals. In normal controls, exposure may not constitute an environmental risk factor for developing the full range of ADHD symptoms, but can produce specific behavioral changes.



© 2014 Johansen et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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