Developmental toxicity of dichloroacetate in the rat

Teratology. 1992 Sep;46(3):217-23. doi: 10.1002/tera.1420460305.


Dichloroacetic acid (DCA) is a principal by-product of the chlorine disinfection of water containing humic and fulvic acids, and is also a drug of interest in the therapeutic management of metabolic disorders. The developmental effects of DCA were evaluated in the pregnant Long-Evans rat. In two separate studies, animals were dosed by oral intubation on gestation days 6-15 (plug = 0) with 0, 900, 1,400, 1,900 or 2,400 mg/kg/day and 0, 14, 140, or 400 mg/kg/day. The vehicle control was distilled water. Maternal observations included clinical signs, weight change, and gross evaluation of organ weights and uterine contents at necropsy (day 20). Corpora lutea were counted and uteri stained for implantation sites. Live fetuses were examined for external, skeletal, and soft tissue malformations. Seven dams died during treatment (1,400 mg 1/19, 1,900 mg 2/19, 2,400 mg 4/21), and maternal weight gain was reduced at all except the lowest treatment levels. Liver, spleen, and kidney weights increased in a dose-related manner. The mean percentage of resorbed implants per litter was significantly elevated at greater than or equal to 900 mg/kg/day. Live fetuses showed dose-dependent reductions in weight and length at doses above 140 mg/kg. Statistically significant frequencies of soft tissue malformations ranged from 2.6% (140 mg/kg) to 73% (2,400 mg/kg). These were principally in the cardiovascular system and predominantly comprised defects between the ascending aorta and the right ventricle. Skeletal malformations were not observed in significant numbers in any dose group.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Dichloroacetic Acid / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / chemically induced*
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Spleen / drug effects


  • Dichloroacetic Acid