Behavioural disturbances in adult CD-1 mice and absence of effects on their offspring upon SO2 exposure

Simona Petruzzi, Giacomo Dell'Omo, Marco Fiore, Flavia Chiarotti, Giorgio Bignami, Enrico Alleva

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Adult male and female CD-1 mice were exposed to different SO2 concentrations (0, 5, 12, or 30 ppm) for 24 days, from 9 days before the formation of breeding pairs to pregnancy day 12-14. This exposure was near-continuous, covering about 80% of the total time indicated. The offspring of exposed dams were cross-fostered shortly after birth to dams not previously exposed. Videorecordings of the adult subjects' activities during the first hour after the start of exposure showed marked, acute transient behavioural effects such as increase of rearing and social interactions, which were more pronounced in males than in females. Subsequent activity tests on exposure days 3, 6, and 9 showed subacute effects including a dose-dependent decrease of grooming and an increase of digging as well as changes in chamber crossing and wall-rearing which were not dose-dependent; most of these effects were more pronounced in females than in males. Food and water consumption and body weight declined in a dose-dependent fashion only after the formation of breeding pairs, when consummatory responses were enhanced in the controls. Reproductive performance as well as postnatal somatic and neurobehavioural development of the offspring (the latter assessed by an observational test battery including eight reflexes and responses) were not affected by SO2. Passive avoidance acquisition and retention at the young adult stage (60 days) and response changes produced by repeated apparatus exposure in non-reinforced animals (habituation) were similarly unaffected. Overall, the data indicate that SO2 produces transient, acute behavioural disturbances and more subtle subacute response changes in adult mice which may be due, at least partly, to a functional interference with olfactory modulation of mouse behaviour. The absence of effects on reproductive performance and neurobehavioural development of the offspring suggests that the risk to the developing organism from gestational SO2 exposure is low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-766
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Activity-exploration
  • Neurobehavioural development
  • Passive avoidance
  • Reproductive performance
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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