Dimethadione embryotoxicity in the rat is neither correlated with maternal systemic drug concentrations nor embryonic tissue levels

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Pregnant rats treated with dimethadione (DMO), the N-demethylated metabolite of the anticonvulsant trimethadione, produce offspring having a 74% incidence of congenital heart defects (CHD); however, the incidence of CHD has high inter-litter variability (40–100%) that presents a challenge when studying the initiating events prior to the presentation of an abnormal phenotype. We hypothesized that the variability in CHD incidence was the result of differences in maternal systemic concentrations or embryonic tissue concentrations of DMO. To test this hypothesis, dams were administered 300 mg/kg DMO every 12 h from the evening of gestational day (GD) 8 until the morning of GD 11 (six total doses). Maternal serum levels of DMO were assessed on GD 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18 and 21. Embryonic tissue concentrations of DMO were assessed on GD 11, 12, 13 and 14. In a separate cohort of GD 12 embryos, DMO concentrations and parameters of growth and development were assessed to determine if tissue levels of DMO were correlated with these endpoints. Embryos were exposed directly to different concentrations of DMO with whole embryo culture (WEC) and their growth and development assessed. Key findings were that neither maternal systemic concentrations nor tissue concentrations of DMO identified embryos that were sensitive or resistant to DMO in vivo. Direct exposure of embryos to DMO via WEC also failed to show correlations between embryonic concentrations of DMO with developmental outcomes in vitro. We conclude that neither maternal serum nor embryonic tissue concentrations of DMO predict embryonic outcome.HighlightsDimethadione (DMO) induces septation defects (VSD) in rat offspring.Despite high rate of VSD defects inter-litter variability is 40–100%.Maternal and embryonic concentrations of DMO were assessed.Neither serum nor tissue levels of DMO were correlated with embryotoxicity.

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