Teratogenicity of zinc deficiency in the rat: study of the fetal skeleton
Bone and Bones/abnormalities
Congenital Abnormalities/etiology
Issue Date: 
John Wiley & Sons
da Cunha Ferreira RM, Marquiegui IM, Elizaga IV. Teratogenicity of zinc deficiency in the rat: study of the fetal skeleton. Teratology. 1989 Feb;39(2):181-94.
Zinc deficiency (ZD) is teratogenic in rats, and fetal skeletal defects are prominent. This study identifies fetal skeletal malformations that affect calcified and non-calcified bone tissue as a result of gestational zinc deficiency in rats, and it assesses the effect of maternal ZD in fetal bone calcification. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats (180-250 g) were fed 1) a control diet (76.4 micrograms Zn/g diet) ad libitum (group C), 2) a zinc-deficient diet (0 microgram/g) ad libitum (group ZD), or 3) the control diet pair-fed to the ZD rats (group PF). On day 21 of gestation, laparotomies were performed. Fetuses were weighed, examined for external malformations, and stained in toto with a double-staining technique for the study of skeletal malformations. Maternal and fetal tissues were used for Zn, Mg, Ca, and P determinations. Gross external malformations were present in 97% of the ZD fetuses. No external malformations were found in fetuses from groups C and PF. Ninety-one percent of cleared ZD fetuses had multiple skeletal malformations, whereas only 3% of the fetuses of group PF had skeletal defects; no skeletal malformations were found in fetuses from group C. Some of the skeletal malformations described in the ZD fetuses, mainly affecting non-calcified bone, were not mentioned in previous reports, thus stressing the importance of using double-staining techniques. Examination of stained fetuses and counting of ossification centers revealed important calcification defects in ZD fetuses. These effects were confirmed by lower Ca and P concentrations in fetal bone with alteration of the Ca:P ratio.

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