Alteration of serotonin system by polychlorinated biphenyls exposure

Neurochem Int. 2012 Jun;60(8):809-16. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2012.03.003. Epub 2012 Mar 10.


Although commercial production of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was banned in 1979, PCBs continue to be an environmental and health concern due to their high bioaccumulation and slow degradation rates. In fact, PCBs are still present in our food supply (fish, meat, and dairy products). In laboratory animals, exposure to single PCB congener or to mixtures of different congeners induces a variety of physiological alterations. PCBs cross the placenta and even exposure at low level is harmful for the foetus by leading to neurodevelopment alterations. Serotonin system which regulates many physiological functions from platelet activation to high cerebral processes and neurodevelopment is one of the targets of PCBs toxicity. The effects of PCBs exposure on serotonin system have been investigated although to a lesser extent compared to its effect in other neurotransmitter systems. This review provides a summary of the results concerning the impact of PCBs exposure (in vitro and in vivo) on serotonin system. Further research is needed to correlate specific deficits with PCB-induced changes in the serotonin system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


  • Serotonin
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls