This study is part of a comprehensive programme to investigate fluoride toxicity and the hypothesis that fluoride ingested by “medically compromised’ animals will result in altered physiological function. Its objectives were to monitor fluoride retention, tissue fluoride concentrations and genetic variables in diabetic and control rats chronically exposed to fluoride, and to determine whether or not adverse effects occurred. Male, Zucker fatty diabetic rats and Zucker age-matched lean controls were fed a low-fluoride diet ( < 1.2 parts/10(6) F-) ad libitum and received 0, 5, 15 or 50 parts/10(6) fluoride in their drinking water for 3 or 6 months. Fluoride metabolic balance was determined for 4 days before the end of each study phase. Plasma and urine were analysed for biochemical markers of tissue function, and plasma, urine, faeces and tissues were analysed for fluoride. Bone marrow cells from animals killed after 6 months of treatment were examined for frequency of sister chromatid exchange, a marker of genetic damage. The diabetic rats consumed, excreted and retained significantly greater amounts of fluoride than the controls (p < 0.05). There were dose-related increases in fluoride excretion, retention and tissue concentrations in both classes of animals, which were significantly greater in the diabetic rats. In spite of greater amounts of fluoride in the tissues of diabetic animals, there was no evidence, under these experimental conditions, that any of the fluoride exposures tested caused measurable adverse effects on the physiological, biochemical or genetic variables that were monitored.
The one histological variable on which fluoride did exert an effect in the diabetic animals was the width of the cortex in the tibia. Loss of bone mass and density are characteristic of both experimental and human diabetes and were evident in our diabetic animals in which the diaphyseal bone width was significantly less than in controls treated with 0, 5 or 15 parts/10^6 fluoride [ppm].