In utero exposure to di(n-butyl) phthalate and testicular dysgenesis: comparison of fetal and adult end points and their dose sensitivity

I. Kim Mahood, Hayley M. Scott, Richard Brown, Nina Hallmark, Marion Walker, Richard M. Sharpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Fetal exposure of male rats to di(n-butyl) phthalate (DBP) induces reproductive disorders similar to those in human testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS), including infertility, cryptorchidism, focal "dysgenetic areas," and Sertoli cell-only tubules in the adult testis. Humans are widely exposed to DBP, but it much lower levels than those causing adverse effects in rats.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to evaluate end points affected by DBP action in rats in fetal and adult life that are relevant to human TDS, and to compare their dose sensitivity.

METHODS: Pregnant rats were gavaged daily with corn oil (control) or with 4, 20, 100, or 500 mg/kg DBP. We examined adult end points of TDS (infertility, cryptorchidism) and indicators within the fetal testis of dysgenesis [abnormal Leydig cell (LC) aggregation, multinucleated gonocytes (MNGs)], as well as conditions that may result from these indicators in adulthood (occurrence of focal dysgenetic areas). Fetal testis weight and testicular testosterone levels were also evaluated.

RESULTS: The fetal end points analyzed (testicular testosterone levels, abnormal LC aggregation, occurrence of MNGs) were most sensitive to disruption by DBP, as all were significantly affected at a dose of 100 mg/kg/day DBP, with a trend toward effects occurring at 20 mg/kg/day DBP; adult end points were affected consistently only, by 500 mg/kg/day DBP.

CONCLUSIONS: The fetal end points we evaluated can be objectively quantified and may prove helpful in evaluating the health risk of exposure to DBP and other phthalates, as well as identifying DBP-sensitive fetal events that have adult consequences/end points that arc identifiable in human TDS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue numberSupplement 1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Cell Aggregation
  • Dibutyl Phthalate
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endpoint Determination
  • Female
  • Germ Cells
  • Gonadal Dysgenesis
  • Leydig Cells
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Testis
  • Testosterone


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