Effects of prenatal chlordecone on sexually differentiated behavior in adult rats

Susan A. Laessig, Anthony P. Auger, Margaret M. McCarthy, Ellen K. Silbergeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In rodents, exposure to estrogens during early development masculinizes the structure and function of the brain. The effects of early exposure to estrogens or estrogenic compounds can be evaluated by neurobehavioral testing after puberty. In this study, the effect of developmental exposure to the chlorinated pesticide, chlordecone (CD) on sexually differentiated behaviors in adults was investigated because CD binds to estrogen receptors and causes estrogenic effects in the reproductive tract of humans and rodents at relatively high doses. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 5 mg/kg CD by intraperitoneal injection on gestation day 16 (GD 16). Offspring were gonadectomized on postnatal day 50 (PN 50) to remove the effects of circulating hormones and were sequentially tested for sex-typic spontaneous behaviors in an open field and elevated plus maze, and for male and female mating behavior following the appropriate steroid regimen. Female rats exposed in utero to CD showed an increased ratio of inner to total crossings in the open field and significantly increased lordosis and male mounting as compared to female control rats. Male rats exposed in utero to CD showed significantly increased lordosis as compared to male control rats and no change in male mating behaviors. Permanent changes in adult behavior were consistent with both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic actions following developmental exposure to CD at the dose tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Anxiety
  • Brain
  • Chlordecone
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Locomotion
  • Pesticides
  • Sex behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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