Behavioral effects in adult rats exposed to low doses of a phthalate mixture during the perinatal or adolescent period

Elli P. Sellinger, Daniel G. Kougias, Carly M. Drzewiecki, Janice M. Juraska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hormones influence neurodevelopment which can result in vulnerability to endocrine disruptors such as phthalates during both the perinatal period and adolescence. Using a rat model, we have previously shown that perinatal exposure to an environmentally relevant phthalate mixture at low doses results in cognitive flexibility deficits in adults and a reduction in neuron and synapse number within the medial prefrontal cortex. Here, we further examined the behavioral effects of exposure to an environmentally relevant mixture of phthalates at low doses during either perinatal development or adolescence. Using the elevated plus maze, adult females, not males, exposed to phthalates during adolescence showed indications of reduced anxiety-like behavior while perinatal exposed animals were unaffected. There was no effect of adolescent phthalate exposure on cognitive flexibility using the attentional set shift paradigm in either sex, unlike the impairments we have previously reported following perinatal exposure (Kougias et al., 2018b). Finally, there was no effect of phthalate exposure during either time frame on sensorimotor gating measured using prepulse inhibition. Environmentally relevant phthalate exposure during the perinatal period or during adolescence did not induce widespread changes in the adult behaviors measured here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106886
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Attentional set shift
  • DBP
  • DEHP
  • Elevated plus maze
  • Neurodevelopment
  • PPI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Toxicology


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