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Long‐term effects on male reproduction of early exposure to common chemical contaminants in drinking water

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We evaluated sequelae to early exposure of male rabbits to drinking water containing chemicals typical of ground water near hazardous waste sites. The mixture (p.p.m. at 1 x) was 7.75 arsenic, 1.75 chromium, 9.25 lead, 12.5 benzene, 3.75 chloroform, 8.5 phenol and 9.5 trichloroethylene. Dutch‐Belted does received mixture at 0 x (deionized water; control), 1 x or 3 x as drinking water from day 20 pregnancy through weaning. Exposure of individual males (7–9/treatment) continued until 15 weeks (adolescence); then, all males received deionized water. At 57–61 weeks of age, ejaculatory capability and seminal, testicular, epididymal and endocrine characteristics were evaluated. At 10 opportunities with a female teaser, all seven control males ejaculated every time, but 12 of the 17 treated males failed to express interest, achieve erection and/or ejaculate on one to five occasions; four of the 12 accomplished ejaculation with a second male teaser. Total spermatozoa/ejaculate and daily sperm production were unaffected. However, treatment caused (P < 0.03) acrosomal dysgenesis and nuclear malformations. Baseline serum concentrations of LH were lower, but with borderline significance (P = 0.05). Testosterone secretion after exogenous human chorionic gonadotrophin (P < 0.04) was low. Thus, even at 45 weeks after last exposure to drinking water pollutants, mating desire/ability, sperm quality, and Leydig cell function were subnormal.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1683, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2001


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