The incorporation of plutonium by the embryo and fetus of rats and Guinea-pigs

A. Morgan*, Jacqueline Haines, John Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The transfer of 238Pu from the maternal circulation to the developing embryo and fetus was studied in rats and guinea-pigs to provide data for the development of dosimetric models for the human embryo and fetus. Following administration at different stages of gestation, measurements were made after 3 days in the rat and 7 days in guinea-pigs. The amount transferred was greater after administration at later stages of gestation, up to a maximum of about 0.8-0.9% of the injected activity per fetoplacental unit (FPU) and about 0.2% per fetus in both species. In advanced gestation the yolk sac, the initial site of haemopoietic stem cells, contained up to 80% of the total activity in the FPU in rats, compared with about 25% for the guinea-pig; retention in placental trophoblast was greater in the guinea-pig. The concentrations of 238Pu in the yolk sac were generally about two to three orders of magnitude greater than fetal concentrations and of the same order as in maternal liver and bone. In both species, concentrations in the embryo and fetus were greatest after injection early in gestation, reached their lowest around mid-organogenesis and increased again in later gestation. The fetus:mother whole-body concentration ratios in late gestation were about 0.1 and 0.05 in rats and guinea-pigs, respectively. Measurements were also made of the 238Pu retention in neonates at birth. In guinea-pigs the liver accounted for about 6-9% of retained activity; similar values for femora indicated skeletal retention of about 60-80%. For administration at each stage of gestation, and particularly at early stages, transfer of 238Pu to the fetus continued throughout gestation but concentrations decreased due to fetal growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1413
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements Part funding for this work was provided by the Commission of the European Communities and the United Kingdom Coordinating Committee for Cancer Research . The assistance of Lucy Robbins, Kathy Wood, Tim Armitage, Shaun Jordan and Helen Bonas is gratefully acknowledged .

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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