Environmental-level in utero and lactational exposures to dioxins have been considered to affect brain functions of offspring. Here, we determined whether in utero and lactational exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and 2,3,7,8-tetrabromodibenzo-p-dioxin (TBDD), at the dose that does not harm the dams, affects the acquisition and retention of fear memory in mouse offspring. Pregnant C57BL/6J mice were administered by gavages TCDD or TBDD at a dose of 0 or 3.0μg/kg body weight on gestation day 12.5, and their male offspring were examined for their behavior in adulthood. In the fear conditioning, a paired presentation of tone and foot shock was repeated three times, and retention tests for contextual and auditory fear memory were carried out 1 and 24. h after the fear conditioning. Groups of mice that were exposed to TCDD and TBDD in utero and via lactation showed deficits in the contextual and auditory retention tests at 1 and 24. h retention intervals. The present results suggest that maternal exposure to a low dose of TCDD or TBDD disrupts the functions of memory and emotion in male mouse offspring, and that the developmental toxicities of these chemicals are similar to each other.
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