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Altered prostate growth and daily sperm production in male mice exposed prenatally to subclinical doses of 17α‐ethinyl oestradiol

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Approximately 2 million women in the USA and Europe continue taking oral contraceptives each year during undetected pregnancy due primarily to non‐compliance and also to individual variation in sensitivity to hormones in the contraceptives. Prenatal exposure to oral contraceptives containing 17α‐ethinyl oestradiol (EE) has generally not been associated with an increased incidence of externally observable malformations at birth. The purpose of this study was to assess effects on reproductive organs in adult male mice that had been exposed during gestation day 0 through 17 (equivalent to gestation week 16 in humans) to clinically relevant (˜0.5 üg/kg/day) and lower doses of EE. Doses used in this study ranged from 0.002 to 2 (μg/kg/day. By 5 months of age, prostate weight was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than controls in most treatment groups of EE (0.02‐2 μg/kg). Prostatic androgen receptor populations were significantly elevated only in the 0.02 μg/kg group, suggesting different mechanisms for the increase in prostate weight at different doses. Daily sperm production (DSP) and DSP per gramme of testis were reduced in all treatment groups during adolescence, but not later in adulthood. These findings are consistent with prior studies showing that prenatal exposure of mice to very low doses of a number of oestrogenic chemicals can alter the adult male reproductive system without causing gross external malformations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri 2: Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri 3: Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 4: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA

Publication date: 2001-07-01

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