Assessing the effects of low Boron diets on embryonic and fetal development in rodents using in vitro and in vivo model systems

Louise Lanoue, Marie W. Taubeneck, Jesus Muniz, Lynn A. Hanna, Philip L. Strong, F. Jay Murray, Forrest H. Nielsen, Curtiss D. Hunt, Carl L Keen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


To date, boron (B) essentiality has not been conclusively shown in mammals. This article summarizes the results of a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments designed to investigate the role of B in mammalian reproduction. In the first study, rat dams were fed either a low (0.04 μg B/g) or an adequate (2.00 μg B/g) B diet for 6 wk before breeding and through pregnancy; reproductive outcome was monitored on gestation day 20. Although low dietary B significantly lowered maternal blood, liver, and bone B concentrations, it had no marked effects on fetal growth or development. The goal of the second study was to assess the effects of B on the in vitro development of rat postimplantation embryos. Day 10 embryos collected from dams fed either the low or adequate B diets for at least 12 wk were cultured in serum collected from male rats exposed to one of the two dietary B treatments. Dams fed the low B diet had a significantly reduced number of implantation sites compared to dams fed the B-adequate diet. However, embryonic growth in vitro was not affected by B treatment. The aim of study 3 was to define the limits of boric acid (BA) toxicity on mouse preimplantation development in vitro. Two-cell mouse embryos were cultured in media containing graded levels of BA (from 6 to 10,000 μM). Impaired embryonic differentiation and proliferation were observed only when embryos were exposed to high levels of BA (>2000 μM), reflecting a very low level of toxicity of BA on early mouse embryonic development. Study 4 tested the effects of low (0.04 μg B/g) and adequate (2.00 μg B/g) dietary B on the in vitro development of mouse preimplantation embryos. Two-cell embryos obtained from the dams were cultured in vitro for 72 h. Maternal exposure to the low B diet for 10, 12, and 16 wk was associated with a reduction in blastocyst formation, a reduction in blastocyst cell number, and an increased number of degenerates. Collectively, these studies support the concept that B deficiency impairs early embryonic development in rodents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-298
Number of pages28
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Boron
  • Embryonic development
  • In vitro model systems
  • Postimplantation
  • Preimplantation
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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