Evaluation of sub-chronic toxic effects of petroleum ether, a laboratory solvent in Sprague-Dawley rats

Author(s): Subramani Parasuraman, Jeyabalan Sujithra, Balakrishnan Syamittra, Wong Yeng Yeng, Wu Yet Ping, Selvadurai Muralidharan, Palanimuthu Vasanth Raj, Sokkalingam Arumugam Dhanaraj

Background: In general, organic solvents are inhibiting many physiological enzymes and alter the behavioural functions, but the available scientific knowledge on laboratory solvent induced organ specific toxins are very limited. Hence, the present study was planned to determine the sub‑chronic toxic effects of petroleum ether (boiling point 40–60°C), a laboratory solvent in Sprague‑Dawley (SD) rats. Materials and Methods: The SD rats were divided into three different groups viz., control, low exposure petroleum ether (250 mg/kg; i.p.) and high exposure petroleum ether (500 mg/kg; i.p.) administered group. The animals were exposed with petroleum ether once daily for 2 weeks. Prior to the experiment and end of the experiment animals behaviour, locomotor and memory levels were monitored. Before initiating the study animals were trained for 2 weeks for its learning process and its memory levels were evaluated. Body weight (BW) analysis, locomotor activity, anxiogenic effect (elevated plus maze) and learning and memory (Morris water navigation task) were monitored at regular intervals. On 14th day of the experiment, few ml of blood sample was collected from all the experimental animals for estimation of biochemical parameters. At the end of the experiment, all the animals were sacrificed, and brain, liver, heart, and kidney were collected for biochemical and histopathological analysis. Results: In rats, petroleum ether significantly altered the behavioural functions; reduced the locomotor activity, grip strength, learning and memory process; inhibited the regular body weight growth and caused anxiogenic effects. Dose‑dependent organ specific toxicity with petroleum ether treated group was observed in brain, heart, lung, liver, and kidney. Extrapyramidal effects that include piloerection and cannibalism were also observed with petroleum ether administered group. These results suggested that the petroleum ether showed a significant decrease in central nervous system (CNS) activity, and it has dose‑dependent toxicity on all vital organs. Conclusion: The dose-dependent CNS and organ specific toxicity was observed with sub-chronic administration of petroleum ether in SD rats.

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