Developmental and reproductive toxicity of dioxins and related compounds: cross-species comparisons

Crit Rev Toxicol. 1993;23(3):283-335. doi: 10.3109/10408449309105013.


Developmental toxicity to TCDD-like congeners in fish, birds, and mammals, and reproductive toxicity in mammals are reviewed. In fish and bird species, the developmental lesions observed are species dependent, but any given species responds similarly to different TCDD-like congeners. Developmental toxicity in fish resembles "blue sac disease," whereas structural malformations can occur in at least one bird species. In mammals, developmental toxicity includes decreased growth, structural malformations, functional alterations, and prenatal mortality. At relatively low exposure levels, structural malformations are not common in mammalian species. In contrast, functional alterations are the most sensitive signs of developmental toxicity. These include effects on the male reproductive system and male reproductive behavior in rats, and neurobehavioral effects in monkeys. Human infants exposed during the Yusho and Yu-Cheng episodes, and monkeys and mice exposed perinatally to TCDD developed an ectodermal dysplasia syndrome that includes toxicity to the skin and teeth. Toxicity to the central nervous system in monkey and human infants is a potential part of the ectodermal dysplasia syndrome. Decreases in spermatogenesis and the ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term are the most sensitive signs of reproductive toxicity in male and female mammals, respectively.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dioxins / adverse effects*
  • Dioxins / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Species Specificity
  • Teratogens


  • Dioxins
  • Teratogens