The relevance of fat content in toxicity of lipophilic chemicals to terrestrial animals with special reference to dieldrin and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1993 Aug;26(1):45-60. doi: 10.1006/eesa.1993.1040.


Lipophilic chemicals such as chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides and other persistent chemicals such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) are fat soluble chemicals and are readily bioconcentrated in animal fat depots. The modifying role of the body fat content in the toxicity of chlorinated cyclodiene insecticides to insects and in the toxicity of TCDD to different mammals was investigated. The single oral acute 30-day LD50 data of TCDD in different mammals are presented and correlated with their total body fat content. A two linear regression equation with log/log values was obtained. It is concluded that the storage of TCDD and other related lipophilic and persistent chemicals in lipids of organisms is, in a sense, a detoxication mechanism by which the compounds are removed from sites of action and/or receptors. Therefore, terrestrial organisms such as insects and mammals with higher total body fat content can accumulate and tolerate higher chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide and TCDD doses than organisms with lower fat content. The different sensitivity of mammals of various species, strains, body weight, sex, age, etc. to acute toxicity of TCDD and related lipophilic persistent chemicals can mainly be explained by differences in total body fat content.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Dieldrin / metabolism
  • Dieldrin / toxicity*
  • Insecta / drug effects*
  • Insecta / metabolism
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / metabolism
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / toxicity*
  • Species Specificity


  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Dieldrin