• Article

Developmental toxicity evaluation of diethyl and dimethyl phthalate in rats

Diethyl phthalate (DEP) and dimethyl phthalate (DMP), phthalic acid ester (PAE) plasticizers, were evaluated for developmental toxicity because of reports in the literature that some PAE were embryotoxic and teratogenic. A previous study (Singh et al., '72) suggested that an increased incidence of skeletal defects in rats might result from gestational exposure to DEP (0.6-1.9 g/kg) or DMP (0.4-1.3 g/kg), ip, on gestational days (gd) 5, 10, and 15. In the current study DEP (0, 0.25, 2.5, and 5%) or DMP (0, 0.25, 1, and 5%) in feed (approximately 0.2-4.0 g/kg/day) were supplied to timed-mated rats from gd 6 to 15. Treatment with 5% DMP resulted in increased relative maternal liver weight. Also, animals exhibited reduced body weight gain during treatment (5% DEP or DMP) and during gestation (5% DEP). Weight gain corrected for gravid uterine weight was also reduced in animals fed 5% DEP. However, high-dose treatment with either DEP or DMP resulted in changes in food and water consumption paralleling the body weight reductions, suggesting that apparent toxic effects on maternal body weight may reflect PAE/feed unpalatability. Treatment with 2.5% DEP resulted in only transient changes in body weight during early treatment. The only maternal effects at 0.25 or 1% DMP were minor changes in food and/or water consumption, and there were no effects at 0.25% DEP. Thus, the NOAELs for maternal toxicity were 1% DMP and 0.25% DEP. In contrast to the observed maternal toxicity, there was no effect of DEP or DMP treatment on any parameter of embryo/fetal development, except an increased incidence of supernumerary ribs (a variation) in the 5% DEP group. These results do not support the conclusion of other investigators that DEP and DMP are potent developmental toxicants. Rather, they suggest that the short-chain PAE are less developmentally toxic than PAE with more complex substitution groups, e.g., di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, and butyl benzyl phthalate


Field, E., Price, C., Sleet, R., George, J., Marr, M., Myers, C., ... Morrissey, RE. (1993). Developmental toxicity evaluation of diethyl and dimethyl phthalate in rats. Teratology, 48(1), 33-44.