The present study tested the hypothesis that acute treatment with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) impairs fertility, disrupts the nocturnal melatonin rhythm, and suppresses lymphocyte function. Adult Siberian hamsters administered 2 or 100 μg TCDD/kg body weight/0.2 ml sesame oil had a delayed latency to first litter and an increased adult mortality compared to hamsters given 0.1 μg/kg or vehicle. Within 75 days of TCDD treatment, full reproductive capabilities were achieved. Moreover, the nocturnal melatonin rhythm was not disrupted in adults administered TCDD or in their progeny. Lymphocyte activity varied with respect to time of day and treatment. Lymphocyte proliferation was enhanced at night irrespective of TCDD treatment; during the day, 2 wk after the 2-μg/kg treatment, blastogenesis was reduced compared to that in the 0.1-μg/kg group or in vehicle-treated controls. In contrast, TCDD did not affect the mixed lymphocyte reaction in response to allogeneic antigen when assessed at 2 and 20 wk post-treatment. Thus, findings indicate that TCDD produced acute effects on fertility, mortality, and systemic lymphocyte proliferation, but long-lasting effects on specific aspects of reproductive, neuroendocrine, and immune cell functions were not observed.
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