To test the hypothesis that the developmental toxicity of cadmium (Cd) is due in part to oxidative damage, embryos were cultured in medium containing 0.0, 1.0, 3.0, or 6.0 μM Cd with or without various antioxidants for 72 h. Ascorbate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and glutathione (GSH) were all effective at ameliorating 1.0 μM Cd-induced embryotoxicity. For embryos cultured in medium containing either 3.0 or 6.0 μM Cd, GSH was effective at ameliorating Cd toxicity while the other antioxidants tested were ineffective. Pretreating embryos with antioxidants for 24 h prior to exposing them to Cd and antioxidants did not significantly alter the previously observed improvement with the exception that pretreatment with GSH virtually eliminated Cd-induced embryotoxicity between 1.0 and 6.0 μM Cd. A 4-h exposure to GSH prior to culture in Cd markedly improved embryo development suggesting that GSH taken up during pretreatment can provide protection against Cd-induced embryotoxicity. This work supports the hypothesis that the developmental toxicity of Cd is in part due to oxidative damage that can be modulated by select antioxidants.
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