Effects of antimony on rats following 90-day exposure via drinking water
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The subchronic toxicity of antimony in drinking water was studied in the rat. Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats (127-135 g body weight, 15 animals per group) were exposed to a soluble trivalent antimony salt, potassium antimony tartrate, in drinking water at concentrations of 0.5, 5, 50 and 500 ppm for 13 wk. Control rats received tap water as drinking water. An additional 10 male and 10 female rats were included in each of the control and 500 ppm groups and were given tap water for a further 4-wk recovery period after the 13-week treatment period. During treatment, the highest dose animals of both sexes consumed significantly less water and showed suppressed body weight gain. During recovery, water intake was quickly restored to that of the control groups and body weight gain was accelerated. At termination, one highest dose male had a cirrhotic liver, and three highest dose males exhibited gross haematuria. Female rats showed a dose-related decrease in serum glucose starting at 5 ppm, and rats of both sexes in the highest dose group had slightly decreased alkaline phosphatase activity and creatinine. The highest dose males had decreased red blood cell and platelet counts and increased mean corpuscular volume. Hepatic glutathione S-transferase activity was increased in the highest dose males and females and ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity was increased in the highest dose males. In the highest dose groups, mild adaptive histological changes were observed in the thyroid, liver and pituitary gland of both sexes, and in the spleen of male rats and thymus of female rats. After a 4-wk recovery period, the pituitary gland of both sexes appeared normal and the changes in the liver and thyroid of both sexes became less severe. On the other hand, minimal changes persisted in the spleen of both sexes and in the thymus of males. Tissue antimony levels were dose-related and follow the order: red blood cells > > spleen, liver > kidney > brain, fat > serum. After the recovery period, antimony level in the highest dose animals decreased for all tissues except the spleen, which remained the same as before recovery. A NOAEL of 0.5 ppm antimony in drinking water, equivalent to an average intake of 0.06 mg/kg body weight/day, was established on the basis of the histological and biochemical changes observed at 5.0 ppm.
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