2005 Volume 30 Issue 3 Pages 175-194
Influence of di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) on testicular development was studied by oral administration of DEHP at doses of 500 and 1000 mg/kg/day to pregnant rats on gestational days (G) 7 to 18. Ethinyl estradiol (EE) at dose levels of 0.25 and 0.5 mg/kg/day was used as a reference substance. Each 5-6 pregnant rats were sacrificed and their fetuses were examined on G12, 14, 16, 18 and 20. Fetal deaths averaging 20-36% were observed at every examination in the group receiving 1000 mg/kg of DEHP. Increases of fetal deaths over 50% were also observed in the reference group that received 0.5 mg/kg of EE. Microscopic examination of the fetal testis in groups treated with DEHP revealed degeneration of germ cells in G16 fetuses and localized proliferation or hyperplasia of interstitial cells in G18 and 20 fetuses. Germ cells having more than two nuclei were observed in a few cases including the control testes of G14 fetuses. These multinucleated cells were observed frequently in G20 fetuses treated with DEHP. Examination of testes of naturally delivered offspring of dams treated with 1000 mg/kg of DEHP at 7 weeks of age revealed scattered atrophy or dilatation of seminiferous tubules.
Another experiment was carried out to confirm the dose of DEHP affecting testicular development and spermatogenesis. DEHP was given to pregnant rats at doses of 125, 250 and 500 mg/kg/day during G7-18. Similar histopathological changes were observed in fetal testes of the group exposed to 500 and 250 mg/kg of DEHP, but not in those exposed to 125 mg/kg. In postnatal examinations, however, no abnormality was found in the testes at 5 and 10 weeks after birth in any of the treated groups. Furthermore, no abnormal findings were observed in the function of sperm, sperm counts and sperm morphology in the offspring of the group treated with DEHP during the fetal period at 10 weeks of age. Thus, 125 mg/kg/day is considered the no-observed-effect-level of DEHP on testicular development of rats by exposure in utero during the period of organogenesis.