Indium, a precious metal classified in group 13 (IIIB) in the periodic table, has been used increasingly in the semiconductor industry. Because indium is a rare metal, technology for indium recycling from transparent conducting films for liquid crystal displays is desired, and its safety evaluation is becoming increasingly necessary. The developmental toxicity of indium in experimental animals was summarized. The intravenous or oral administration of indium to pregnant animals causes growth inhibition and the death of embryos in hamsters, rats, and mice. The intravenous administration of indium to pregnant animals causes embryonic or fetal malformation, mainly involving digit and tail deformities, in hamsters and rats. The oral administration of indium also induces fetal malformation in rats and rabbits, but requires higher doses. No teratogenicity has been observed in mice. Caudal hypoplasia, probably due to excessive cell loss by increased apoptosis in the tailbud, in the early postimplantation stage was considered to account for indium-induced tail malformation as a possible pathogenetic mechanism. Findings from in vitro experiments indicated that the embryotoxicity of indium could have direct effects on the conceptuses. Toxicokinetic studies showed that the embryonic exposure concentration was more critical than the exposure time regarding the embryotoxicity of indium. It is considered from these findings that the risk of the developmental toxicity of indium in humans is low, unless an accidentally high level of exposure or unknown toxic interaction occurs because of possible human exposure routes and levels (i.e. oral, very low-level exposure).
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