n-Hexane and benzene are organic compounds which have been widely used as industrial solvents. However, they are also increasingly recognized as important pollutants in working environment. The purpose of this study is tp analyze neurotoxicity of benzene and n-hexane. In this study, tibial nerve of Sprague-Dawley rats were observed after exposing them to two different concentrations of these compounds (6000 ppm of n-hexane and 2000 ppm of benzene) which were known to be the levels to cause subacute toxicity for the three different periods; two weeks, four weeks, and six weeks. The following results were obtained from the analysis of variance, Duncan's multiple comparison test, and regression analysis: 1) Myelin sheath thickness of nerve fiber for two n-hexane exposed groups (four weeks and six weeks) were both reduced compared with the control group and the benzene exposed group. 2) There were positive relationships between nerve fiber diameter and myelin sheath thickness for both exposed and control groups. 3) There was no significant difference in myelin sheath thickness from equal diameter nerve fibers between benzene exposed group and control group, but the greater number of thin myelin sheath were observed for n-hexane exposed group compared with control group. Thus, it is concluded that n-hexane tends to reduce the rate of growth of nerve fiber more than the benzene and control group. While these results shed light on understanding the effects of benzene and n-hexane, the duration of exposure was not long enough to apply these results to real working environments. In addition, to further understand the mechanims of nerve degeneration caused by organic solvents, both epidemiological and biochemical studies should accompanied by this kind of study.
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