Lightly chlorinated ortho-substituted PCB congeners decrease dopamine in nonhuman primate brain and in tissue culture

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1990 Oct;106(1):136-44. doi: 10.1016/0041-008x(90)90113-9.


Exposure of the nonhuman primate, Macaca nemestrina, to Aroclor 1016, a commercial mixture of 26 lightly chlorinated PCB congeners, decreased dopamine concentrations in the caudate, putamen, substantia nigra, and hypothalamus. Only three ortho-substituted nonplanar PCB congeners (2,4,4', 2,4,2',4', and 2,5,2',5') were detected in these brain regions, suggesting that these congeners may be responsible for the observed decreases in dopamine. The ability of these and other PCB congeners to alter dopamine function was tested directly by applying them to dopamine-synthesizing cells in culture, PC-12 pheochromocytoma cells. In vitro testing demonstrated that these three congeners reduced cellular dopamine concentrations while planar, dioxin-like congeners, e.g., 3,4,3',4' and 3,4,5,3',4', did not. Thus, these ortho-substituted nonplanar congeners may be directly responsible for the observed changes in in vivo neurochemistry. Furthermore, these results suggest that the observed decreases in both in vivo and in vitro dopamine concentrations may occur through a novel mechanism and not through the Ah-receptor complex thought to mediate immunotoxic and hepatotoxic changes following exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aroclors / toxicity
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dopamine / analysis*
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Aroclors
  • Aroclor 1016
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Dopamine