GSBS Student Publications


A plasticizer released from IV drip chambers elevates calcium levels in neurosecretory terminals

GSBS Program

Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Program in Neuroscience; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Treistman Lab; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience Program



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Calcium; Chromatography, Thin Layer; Diethylhexyl Phthalate; *Drug Packaging; Humans; Infusions, Intravenous; Male; Neurosecretory Systems; PC12 Cells; Pituitary Gland, Posterior; Plasticizers; Presynaptic Terminals; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet; Tumor Cells, Cultured




We report that intracellular calcium levels rise in mammalian neurosecretory terminals and in cultured pheochromocytoma cells during acute exposure to physiological medium incubated in IV drip chambers. The agent responsible for this effect is shown to be di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP). DEHP (800 nM) added to saline solution caused a rise in [Ca(2+)](i) similar to that elicited by the contaminant-containing solution. The extraction of this contaminant from the IV drip chamber, as measured by spectrophotometry, was time-dependent and was markedly accelerated by the presence of 50 mM ethanol in the solution. Larger [Ca(2+)](i) increases were observed in terminals exposed to solutions incubated in IV drip chambers for greater durations. The rise in calcium requires transmembrane calcium flux through membrane channels, as the response is blocked by either 100 microM cadmium or by lowering the extracellular free Ca(2+) concentration to 10 microM. Our results suggest that acute alterations in intracellular calcium should be considered in addition to long-term effects when determining the safety of phthalate-containing plastics and that laboratory researchers using plastic perfusion materials consider this potential source of artifactual results.

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Citation: Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 Nov 1;168(3):183-8. Link to article on publisher's site

DOI of Published Version


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal Title

Toxicology and applied pharmacology

PubMed ID