Disrupting effects of hydroxy-polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners on neuronal development of cerebellar Purkinje cells: a possible causal factor for developmental brain disorders?

Chemosphere. 2007 Apr;67(9):S412-20. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2006.05.137. Epub 2007 Jan 16.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and hydroxy-PCB (OH-PCB) metabolites are widely distributed bioaccumulative environmental chemicals and have similar chemical structures to those of thyroid hormones (THs). Previously, we reported that THs are essential for neuronal development and the low doses of two OH-PCBs, namely, 4-OH-2',3,3',4',5'-pentachlorobiphenyl (4'-OH-PeCB-106) and 4-OH-2',3,3',4',5,5'-hexachlorobiphenyl (4'-OH-HxCB-159), inhibited the TH-dependent dendritic development of Purkinje cells in mouse cerebellar cultures using serum-free defined medium. To determine which type of OH-PCBs affect neuronal development, we further examined several OH-PCBs and other estrogenic chemicals using this simple and sensitive assay system. Two-way ANOVA was used to assess the effects of OH-PCBs and other chemicals on both factors of their concentrations and with/without T4 in the assay of TH-dependent dendritic development of Purkinje cells. Aside from the two OH-PCBs, 4-OH-2',3,4',5,6'-pentachlorobiphenyl (4'-OH-PeCB-121) and bisphenol A significantly inhibited the TH-dependent dendritic development of Purkinje cells, whereas 4-OH-2',3,3',5',6'-pentachlorobiphenyl (4'-OH-PeCB-112), 4-OH-2',3,3',5,5',6'-hexachlorobiphenyl (4'-OH-HxCB-165), 4-OH-2,2',3,4',5,5',6-heptachlorobiphenyl (4-OH-HpCB-187), progesterone and nonylphenol did not induce any inhibition, but significantly promoted the dendritic extension of Purkinje cells in the absence of THs. Other estrogenic chemicals, including beta-estradiol, diethyl stilbestrol and p-octylphenol did not show significant inhibitory or promoting effects. From these results, it is suggested that exposure to OH-PCBs and other environmental chemicals may disrupt normal neuronal development and cause some developmental brain disorders, such as LD, ADHD, and autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / drug effects*
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Dendrites / drug effects*
  • Dendrites / pathology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Estrogens / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity*
  • Purkinje Cells / drug effects*
  • Purkinje Cells / pathology
  • Thyroid Hormones / physiology


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Estrogens
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls