Subchronic nose-only inhalation study of propylene glycol in Sprague-Dawley rats

Food Chem Toxicol. 1989 Sep;27(9):573-83. doi: 10.1016/0278-6915(89)90016-1.


Groups of nineteen Sprague-Dawley rats of each sex were exposed by a nose-only inhalation to 0.0, 0.16, 1.0 or 2.2 mg propylene glycol/litre air, for 6 hr/day, 5 days/wk for 90 days. There were no significant differences in respiratory rates, minute volumes or tidal volumes between any of the groups during aerosol exposure. The uniformity of respiratory parameters between dose groups implied that the delivered doses were proportional to the exposure concentrations. The mean terminal body weights were not significantly different from controls for any group of male animals. The mean body weights of the females exposed to 2.2 mg/litre were significantly less than those of female controls from day 50 onwards. This effect, in female rats, was consistent with a decrease in feed consumption for the high-exposure female rats beginning on study day 43. Statistically significant differences between the treated and control groups in certain haematological parameters, serum enzyme activities, other serum chemistry parameters and organ weights did not show clear dose relationships. There was a significant increase in the number of goblet cells or an increase in the mucin content of the existing goblet cells in the nasal passages of the medium- and high-exposure animals. Exposure to the above concentrations of propylene glycol caused nasal haemorrhage and ocular discharge in a high proportion of animals, possibly as a result of dehydration of the nares and eyes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Electrolytes / blood
  • Enzymes / blood
  • Erythrocyte Count / drug effects
  • Female
  • Leukocyte Count / drug effects
  • Male
  • Nasal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Respiration / drug effects*
  • Turbinates / drug effects


  • Electrolytes
  • Enzymes
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Propylene Glycol