Effects of phthalate esters on the developing reproductive tract of male rats

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Abstract:

Phthalate esters are a large group of chemical agents used predominantly as plasticizers and solvents. Certain members of this chemical class have been shown to cause reproductive and developmental toxicity. Recent attention has focused on the potential of these agents to interfere with male reproductive development through a postulated antiandrogenic mechanism. Observations have focused on di‐n‐butyl phthalate (DBP), di‐(2‐ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and butyl benzylphthalate, with most information relating to dose‐response relationships obtained for DBP. Neither DBP, DEHP nor their major metabolites interacted with human or rodent androgen receptors (AR) in transcriptional activation assays. DBP was administered during the critical window of development of the male reproductive system, after which the resulting offspring were examined until adulthood. DBP elicited marked effects on the developing male reproductive tract, including malformations of the epididymis and vas deferens, and hypospadias. Retention of thoracic nipples/areolae and reductions in anogenital distance were also noted. Surprisingly, Leydig cell adenomas were induced in some male offspring at 100 days of age. All these events occurred in the absence of any toxicity in the pregnant dam. Examination of testes from fetal rats indicated markedly reduced testosterone levels and increased Leydig cell numbers after DBP administration to the dams. Leydig cells were positive for AR and 3‐betahydroxysteroid dehydrogenase.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0463.2001.tb05776.x

Affiliations: Endocrine Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology Program, CIIT Centers for Health Research, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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