Wilhelm Roux's archives of developmental biology

, Volume 186, Issue 4, pp 297–308 | Cite as

Influence of copper on the early post-implantation mouse embryo: An in vivo and in vitro study

  • K. S. O'Shea
  • M. H. Kaufman


Female mice were injected intravenously with copper sulphate on either the 7th day (early egg cylinder stage of development), the 8th day (late egg cylinder stage), or the 9th day (early somite stage of development), and examined on the 10th day of gestation. Injection on the 7th day was found to be embryo-lethal; when females were injected on the 8th day, the majority of the surviving embryos exhibited anomalies of the neural tube and/or the heart, while injection on the 9th day resulted in a very low incidence of anomalies. The most common malformations seen on the 10th day involved failure of closure of the neural tube in the head region of the embryo, and various types of anomalies of cardiac rotation and shape. When additional females injected on the 8th day were examined on the 12th day, a high proportion of the fetuses examined had developed exencephaly.

A further group of embryos from untreated females were explanted on the 9th day and cultured in vitro in various concentrations of copper sulphate. The lowest levels tested had little obvious effect on neural tube closure. Intermediate doses resulted in, retarded and anomalous embryonic development, while the highest levels employed resulted in neural tube and cardiac anomalies similar to those produced in vivo.

The results demonstrate both the direct toxic effect of copper on embryonic development and that the stage of embryonic development at the time of exposure determines both the nature and the extent of the effect.

Key words

Mouse Copper sulphate Teratogenicity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. S. O'Shea
    • 1
  • M. H. Kaufman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyCambridgeEngland

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