Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty Publications

Inhalation Developmental Neurotoxicity Study of Ethylbenzene in Crl-CD Rats

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Birth Defects Research Part B: Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology





First Page


Last Page





This study was conducted to evaluate the potential adverse effects of whole-body inhalation exposure of F0 and F1 parental animals from a 2-generation reproduction study of ethylbenzene on nervous system functional and/or morphologic end points in the F2 offspring from four groups of male and female Crl:CD® (SD)IGS BR rats. METHODS: Thirty rats/sex/group for F0 and 25/sex/group for F1 were exposed to 0, 25, 100, and 500 ppm ethylbenzene for six hours daily for at least 70 consecutive days prior to mating for the F0 and F1 generations. Inhalation exposure for the F0 and F1 females continued throughout mating and gestation through Gestation Day (GD) 20. On lactation days (LD) 1–4, the F0 and F1 females received no inhalation exposure, but instead were administered ethylbenzene in corn oil via oral gavage at dosages estimated to result in similar internal maternal exposure based upon PBPK modeling estimates (0, 26, 90, and 342 mg/kg/day, respectively, divided into three equal doses, approximately two hours apart). Inhalation exposure of the F0 and F1 females was reinitiated on LD 5 and continued through weaning on postnatal day (PND) 21. Survival, body weights, and physical landmarks were assessed in selected F2 offspring. Neurobehavioral development of one F2-generation treatment derived offspring/sex/litter was assessed in a functional observational battery (FOB; PND 4, 11, 22, 45, and 60), motor activity sessions (PND 13, 17, 21, and 61), acoustic startle testing (PND 20 and 60), a Biel water maze learning and memory task (initiated on PND 26 or 62), and in evaluations of whole-brain measurements and brain morphometric and histologic assessments (PND 21 and 72). RESULTS: There were no adverse effects on reproductive performance in either the F0 or F1 parental generations exposed to up to 500 ppm ethylbenzene [Faber et al. Birth Defects Res Part B 77:10–21, 2006];. In the current developmental neurotoxicity component, parental ethylbenzene exposure did not adversely affect offspring survival, clinical condition, body weight parameters, or acquisition of developmental landmarks of the F2-generation treatment derived offspring. There were no alterations in FOB parameters, motor activity counts, acoustic startle endpoints, or Biel water maze performance in offspring attributed to parental ethylbenzene exposure. A few isolated instances of statistically significant differences obtained in the treatment-derived groups occurred sporadically, and were attributed to unusual patterns of development and/or behavior in the concurrent control group. There were no exposure-related differences in any neuropathology parameters in the F2-generation treatment derived offspring. CONCLUSIONS: The no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) for maternal reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity, and developmental neurotoxicity in this study was considered to be 500 ppm/342 mg/kg/day ethylbenzene, the highest exposure level tested in the study.


Ethylbenzene, Crl:CD rats, neurobehavioral development