Toluene is a hazardous air pollutant that can be toxic to the nervous and cardiovascular systems. The cardiotoxicity data for toluene come from acute studies in anesthetized animals and from clinical observations made on toluene abusers and there is little known on the response of the cardiovascular and other autonomic processes to graded doses of toluene. This study assessed the effects of toluene (0.4, 0.8, and 1.2 g/kg; gavage) on heart rate (HR), blood pressure, core temperature (Tc), and motor activity (MA) in unrestrained, male Long-Evans rats monitored by telemetry. Toluene doses of 0.8 and 1.2 g/kg elicited significant elevations in HR, characterized by a transient 100 beats/min increase in HR lasting 1 h followed with a steady state tachycardia lasting > 6 h. Overall, HR increased by 25 and 50 beats/min in the 0.8 and 1.2 g/kg groups, respectively. MA increased markedly in the 0.8 and 1.2 g/kg groups but the tachycardia persisted in spite of recovery of MA in the 0.8 g/kg group. There was a small (< 0.5 °C) increase in Tcabove controls in rats dosed with 0.8 g/kg toluene, whereas 1.2 g/kg toluene elicited a transient reduction in Tcfollowed by a small elevation lasting several hours. In a second study, rats were implanted with transmitters to monitor blood pressure (BP), and were administered with toluene as in the first study. HR, Tc, and MA were also monitored. The tachycardic effects of toluene at 0.8 and 1.2 g/kg were associated with a rise in blood pressure. Doses of 0.8 and 1.2 g/kg elicited a mean BP elevation of 6 and 16 mm Hg, respectively, for 7-hour post-dosing. The biphasic tachycardia to toluene suggests multiple sites for eliciting the cardiotoxic effects of this toxicant. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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