Mullenix PJ; Denbesten PK; Schunior A; Kernan WJ

Toxicology Department, Forsyth Research Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride in rats

Neurotoxicol Teratol (NAT), 1995 Mar-Apr; 17 (2): 169-77

Fluoride (F) is known to affect mineralizing tissues, but effects upon the developing brain have not been previously considered. This study in Sprague-Dawley rats compares behavior, body weight, plasma and brain F levels after sodium fluoride (NaF) exposures during late gestation, at weaning or in adults. For prenatal exposures, dams received injections (SC) of 0.13 mg/kg NaF or saline on gestational days 14-18 or 17-19. Weanlings received drinking water containing 0, 75, 100, or 125 ppm F for 6 or 20 weeks, and 3 month-old adults received water containing 100 ppm F for 6 weeks. Behavior was tested in a computer pattern recognition system that classified acts in a novel environment and quantified act initiations, total times and time structures. Fluoride exposures caused sex- and dose-specific behavioral deficits with a common pattern. Males were most sensitive to prenatal day 17-19 exposure, whereas females were more sensitive to weanling and adult exposures. After fluoride ingestion, the severity of the effect on behavior increased directly with plasma F levels and F concentrations in specific brain regions. Such association is important considering that plasma levels in this rat model (0.059 to 0.640 ppm F) are similar to those reported in humans exposed to high levels of fluoride.

Comment in: Neurotoxicol Teratol, 1995 Nov-Dec;17(6):685-8