Sex Specific Placental Accumulation and Behavioral Effects of Developmental Firemaster 550 Exposure in Wistar Rats

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 2;7(1):7118. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-07216-6.


Firemaster® 550 (FM 550) is a commercial flame retardant mixture of brominated and organophosphate compounds applied to polyurethane foam used in furniture and baby products. Due to widespread human exposure, and structural similarities with known endocrine disruptors, concerns have been raised regarding possible toxicity. We previously reported evidence of sex specific behavioral effects in rats resulting from developmental exposure. The present study expands upon this prior finding by testing for a greater range of behavioral effects, and measuring the accumulation of FM 550 compounds in placental tissue. Wistar rat dams were orally exposed to FM 550 during gestation (0, 300 or 1000 µg/day; GD 9 - 18) for placental measurements or perinatally (0, 100, 300 or 1000 µg/day; GD 9 - PND 21) to assess activity and anxiety-like behaviors. Placental accumulation was dose dependent, and in some cases sex specific, with the brominated components reaching the highest levels. Behavioral changes were predominantly associated with a loss or reversal of sex differences in activity and anxiety-like behaviors. These findings demonstrate that environmental chemicals may sex-dependently accumulate in the placenta. That sex-biased exposure might translate to sex-specific adverse outcomes such as behavioral deficits is a possibility that merits further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Flame Retardants / adverse effects*
  • Flame Retardants / analysis
  • Male
  • Molecular Structure
  • Placenta / drug effects*
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sex Factors


  • Flame Retardants