Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A

Effects of cobalt sulfate on prenatal development of mice, rats, and rabbits, and on early postnatal development of rats.

PMID 11261899


The effects of cobalt sulfate administered to pregnant C57BI mice, OFA-SD rats, and New Zealand rabbits was studied on fetal and postnatal offspring. Cobalt concentration in the maternal blood was increased in proportion to the administered doses. Cobalt crossed the placenta and appeared in the fetal blood and amniotic fluid. Regardless of the administered dose of cobalt sulfate, cobalt concentration in the blood peaked 2 h after administration. Cobalt produced dose-dependent maternal toxicity and was found to be embryotoxic in all three species, as evidenced by elevated frequency of fetuses with body weight or skeletal retardation and embryolethality. Cobalt increased the frequency of major anomalies significantly in mice and rats, with anomalies of the eyes, kidneys, skull, spine, and sternum in mice, and anomalies of the urogenital system in rats. Cobalt sulfate was not teratogenic in rabbits. Intra-amnial administration of cobalt sulfate produced a dose-dependent increase of the frequency of dead fetuses, and weight retardation of the live fetuses. The direct cytotoxic effect probably plays a role in the embryotoxic and teratogenic effects of cobalt. The postnatal examinations revealed a decrease of the perinatal index in the treated group. The body weight of the pups in the treated group was lower during wk 1 of life, but no difference was found between the control and treated by the end of wk 2. Eye opening was completed in the usual time period in both groups, while time of appearance of the teeth, descending of the testes, shaping of ears, and development of hearing was delayed in the treated group. The development of muscle strength and of the locomotor system was delayed. All the functions studied (forward movement, swimming, righting reflex) normalized by postnatal d 21, with the exception of muscle strength. It was concluded that cobalt sulfate exposure decreases the perinatal viability of the fetuses, but the functions of the surviving fetuses with perinatal retardation become compensated by postnatal wk 2-3. The development of fetuses is undisturbed thereafter.

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