Maternal transfer of BDE-47 to offspring and neurobehavioral development in C57BL/6J mice

Claire M. Koenig, Jozsef Lango, Isaac N Pessah, Robert F Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants used worldwide in a variety of commercial goods, and are now widely found in both environmental and biological samples. BDE-47 is one of the most pervasive of these PBDE congeners and therefore is of particular concern. In this study C57BL/6J mice were exposed perinatally to 0.03, 0.1 or 1. mg/kg/day of BDE-47, a dose range chosen to encompass human exposure levels. Tissue levels of BDE-47 were measured in the blood, brain, fat and milk of dams and in whole fetal homogenate and blood and brain of pups on gestational day (GD) 15, and postnatal days (PNDs) 1, 10 and 21. From GD 15 to PND 1 levels of BDE-47 increased within dam tissues and then decreased from PNDs 1 to 21. Over the period of lactation levels in dam milk were comparatively high when compared to both brain and blood for all dose groups. Measurable levels of BDE-47 were found in the fetus on GD 15 confirming gestational exposure. From PNDs 1 to 21, levels of BDE-47 in pup tissue increased over the period of lactation due to the transfer of BDE-47 through milk. Behavioral tests of fine motor function and learning and memory were carried out between postnatal weeks 5-17 in order to evaluate the neurobehavioral toxicity of BDE-47. Behavioral deficits were only seen in the Barnes spatial maze where mice in the three exposure groups had longer latencies and traveled longer distances to find the escape hole when compared to vehicle control mice. These results support the conclusions that perinatal exposure to BDE-47 can have neurodevelopmental consequences, and that lactational exposure represents a significant exposure risk during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • BDE-47
  • Behavior
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Flame retardant
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ether

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Toxicology


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