Potassium dichromate (K(2)Cr(2)O(7)) is an environmental contaminant widely recognized as a carcinogen, mutagen, and teratogen toward humans and animals. This study investigated the effects of K(2)Cr(2)O(7) on the hepatic function of pregnant and lactating rats and their suckling pups. Experiments were carried out on female Wistar rats given 700 ppm of K(2)Cr(2)O(7) in their drinking water from the 14th day of pregnancy until day 14 after delivery. Hepatotoxicity was objectified by the significant increase in liver malondialdehyde content and a significant accumulation of chromium in this soft tissue. Moreover, exposure to K(2)Cr(2)O(7) induced a decrease of glutathione, nonprotein thiols, and vitamin C in the liver of mothers and their suckling pups. Alteration of the antioxidant system in the treated group was confirmed by the significant decline of antioxidant enzyme activities such as catalase, glutathione peroxidase, while liver superoxide dismutase activity increased in mothers and decreased in their offspring. It was found that K(2)Cr(2)O(7) induced liver damages as evidenced by the elevation of plasma aminotransferases, lactate dehydrogenase activities, and bilirubin levels. Impairment of the hepatic function corresponded histologically. Our investigation revealed hemorrhage, leukocytes infiltration cells, and necrosis, which were more pronounced in the hepatocytes of mothers than in those of their suckling pups.
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