An overview of butanol-induced developmental neurotoxicity and the potential mechanisms related to these observed effects.


The purpose of this article is to briefly review the published literature on the developmental neurotoxic effects, including potential mechanisms, of four butanols: n-butanol, sec-butanol, tert-butanol, isobutanol, and identify data gaps and research needs for evaluation of human health risks in this area. Exposure potential to these four butanols is considerable given the high production volume (>1 billion lb) of n- and tert-butanol and moderate production volumes (100-500 million lb) of sec- and isobutanol. With the impetus to derive cleaner gasoline blends, butanols are being considered for use as fuel oxygenates. Notable signs of neurotoxicity and developmental neurotoxicity have been observed in some studies where laboratory animals (rodents) were gestationally exposed to n- or tert-butanol. Mechanistic data relevant to the observed developmental neurotoxicity endpoints were also reviewed to hypothesize potential mechanisms associated with the developmental neurotoxicity outcome. Data from the related and highly characterized alcohol, ethanol, were included to examine consistencies between this compound and the four butanols. It is widely known that alcohols, including butanols, interact with several ion channels and modulate the function of these targets following both acute and chronic exposures. In addition, n- and sec-butanol have been demonstrated to inhibit fetal rat brain astroglial cell proliferation. Further, rat pups exposed to n-butanol in utero were also reported to have significant increases in brain levels of dopamine and serotonin, but decreases in serotonin levels were noted with gestational exposure to tert-butanol. tert-Butanol was reported to inhibit muscarinic receptor-stimulated phosphoinositide metabolism which has been hypothesized to be a possible target for the neurotoxic effects of ethanol during brain development. The mechanistic data for the butanols support developmental neurotoxicity that has been observed in some of the rodent studies. However, careful studies evaluating the neurobehavior of developing pups in sensitive strains, as well as characterizing the plausible mechanisms involved, need to be conducted in order to further elucidate the neurodevelopmental effects of butanols for risk evaluation.

DOI: 10.1016/

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@article{Bale2016AnOO, title={An overview of butanol-induced developmental neurotoxicity and the potential mechanisms related to these observed effects.}, author={Ambuja S. Bale and Janice Lee}, journal={Neurotoxicology and teratology}, year={2016}, volume={53}, pages={33-40} }