Mitochondrial toxicity of phthalate esters

Environ Health Perspect. 1982 Nov;45:51-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.824551.


The effects of mono- and dibutyl phthalate and mono- and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate on energy-dependent K+ uptake, respiration rates, and succinate cytochrome c reductase activities of isolated rat liver mitochondria were evaluated. The energy-coupling processes, active K+ transport and oxidative phosphorylation, were affected most by di-n-butyl phthalate and mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. Mono-n-butyl phthalate had a moderate effect on energy coupling and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate had no apparent effect. The potency of inhibition of succinate cytochrome c reductase activity was mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate greater than di-n-butyl phthalate greater than mono-n-butyl phthalate = di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. It is concluded that phthalate esters affect mitochondrial activities by altering the permeability properties of the inner membrane and by inhibiting succinate dehydrogenase activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electron Transport / drug effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects*
  • Phthalic Acids / pharmacology
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity*
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / metabolism


  • Phthalic Acids
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase
  • Potassium