Kodavanti PR, Derr-Yellin EC, Mundy WR, Shafer TJ, Herr DW Barone S, Choksi, NY, MacPhail RC, Tilson HA. 1998. Repeated exposure of Aroclor 1254 causes brain region-specific changes in intracellular Ca2+ buffering and protein kinase C activity in the absence of changes in tyrosine hydroxylase. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 153:186–198, DOI: 10.1006/taap.1998.8533.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants, some of which may be neurotoxic. In vitro studies from this laboratory indicated that noncoplanar PCBs perturbed intracellular signal transduction mechanisms including Ca2+ homeostasis, receptor-mediated inositol phosphate production, and translocation of protein kinase C (PKC). In the present study, we examined the effects of PCBs in vivo by dosing adult male Long-Evans rats orally with Aroclor 1254 (0, 10, or 30 mg/kg/day; 5 days/week for 4 weeks) in corn oil. At 24 h after the last dose, rats were tested for motor activity in a photocell device for 30 min. Immediately, the rats were euthanized, blood was collected for thyroid hormone analysis, and brains were removed, dissected into regions (cerebellum, frontal cortex, and striatum), and subcellular fractions were obtained for neurochemical analysis. Following Aroclor 1254 treatment, body weight gain in the high-dose group was significantly lower than the control and low-dose groups. Horizontal motor activity was significantly lower in rats dosed with 30 mg/kg Aroclor 1254. Ca2+ buffering by microsomes was significantly lower in all three brain regions from the 30 mg/kg group. In the same dose group, mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering was affected in cerebellum but not in cortex or striatum. Similarly, total cerebellar PKC activity was decreased significantly while membrane-bound PKC activity was significantly elevated at 10 and 30 mg/kg. PKC activity was not altered either in cortex or the striatum. Neurotransmitter levels in striatum or cortex were slightly altered in PCB-exposed rats compared to controls. Furthermore, repeated oral administration of Aroclor 1254 to rats did not significantly alter forebrain tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity or enzymatic activity. Circulating T4 (total and free) concentrations were severely depressed at both doses in Aroclor 1254-exposed rats compared to control rats, suggesting a severe hypothyroid state. These results indicate that (1) in vivo exposure to a PCB mixture can produce changes in second messenger systems that are similar to those observed after in vitro exposure of neuronal cell cultures; (2) second messenger systems seem to be more sensitive than alterations in neurotransmitter levels or tyrosine hydroxylase involved in dopamine synthesis during repeated exposure to PCBs; and (3) the observed motor activity changes were independent of changes in striatal dopamine levels.