The utilization of safety biomarkers to predict the possibility of compound-related toxicity provides several advantages for drug discovery and development, especially at an early stage. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of male reproductive toxicants on protein expression profiles in the rat testes and to identify potential biomarker candidates. Four well-known reproductive toxicants, ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME), cyclophosphamide (CP), sulfasalazine (SASP) and 2,5-hexanedione (2,5-HD), were administered to male rats in a single dose, and protein expression profiles were investigated after 24 hr by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2DE). Histopathological examination of the testes and serum concentration analysis were also performed. From the results of the comparison of 2D-gels among different doses of a compound and among compounds, 52, 20, 24 and 111 spots were nominated as differentially expressed spots with EGME, CP, SASP and 2,5-HD treatments, respectively. Several spermatogenesis-involved proteins were identified, including glutathione S-transferase (GST), testis-specific heat shock protein 70-2 (HSP70-2), glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein (PEBP). Some of them were altered by more than one compound. In summary, remarkable histopathological findings were observed only in the EGME high-dose group, and most of the protein changes were detected before histopathological changes occurred. Therefore, the proteins identified in this study could potentially serve as biomarkers to evaluate male reproductive toxicity at an early stage of drug discovery and development.
2005 The Japanese Society of Toxicology