Developmental exposure to PCBs and/or MeHg: Effects on a differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) operant task before and after amphetamine drug challenge


The current study assessed the effects of developmental PCB and/or MeHg exposure on an operant task of timing and inhibitory control and determined if amphetamine (AMPH) drug challenges differentially affected performance. Long-Evans rats were exposed to corn oil (control), PCBs alone (1 or 3 mg/kg), MeHg alone (1.5 or 4.5 ppm), the low combination (1 mg/kg PCBs + 1.5 ppm MeHg), or the high combination (3 mg/kg PCBs +4.5 ppm MeHg) throughout gestation and lactation. An environmentally relevant, formulated PCB mixture was used. Male and female offspring were trained to asymptotic performance on a differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) operant task as adults. PCB-exposed groups had a lower ratio of reinforced to non-reinforced responses than controls. Groups exposed to MeHg alone were not impaired and the deficits observed in PCB-exposed groups were not seen when PCBs were co-administered with MeHg. AMPH was less disruptive to responding in males receiving PCBs alone, MeHg alone, and 1.0 mg/kg PCB + 1.5 ppm MeHg. Paradoxically, the disruption in responding by AMPH in males given 3.0 mg/kg PCB + 4.5 ppm MeHg did not differ from controls. Exposed females from all treatment groups did not differ from controls in their AMPH response. Overall, the findings suggest that developmental exposure to PCBs can decrease DRL performance. Co-exposure to MeHg seemed to mitigate the detrimental effects of PCBs on performance. The finding that the disruptive effects of AMPH on DRL performance were lessened in some groups of exposed males suggests that alterations in dopaminergic functioning may have a role in behavioral changes seen after perinatal PCB and MeHg exposure. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Neurotoxicology and Teratology