Environmental toxicology and chemistry

Development of a brain nucleus involved in song production in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) is disrupted by Aroclor 1248.

PMID 18380522


We studied whether polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may alter the development of song control brain nuclei in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) offspring of pulse-exposed hens. We orally administered 40 microg of Aroclor 1248 to adult female finches before egg laying. When the progeny were 50 d old, we measured the volumes of the song control nuclei robustus arcopallialis (RA) and higher vocal center (HVC) using light microscopy. Both male and female progeny of exposed birds had a significantly smaller RA than control birds (36 and 16%, respectively; p < or = 0.05). The HVC did not differ in either sex between exposed and control groups. Perhaps impaired development of RA was caused by PCB action on steroid receptors. We conclude that animals living in contaminated areas may be at risk of neurological damage in hormone-sensitive brain areas and that changes in brain nuclei related to song may be a sensitive indicator of low-level PCB exposure.