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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 Sep 1;167(2):87-99.

Effects of in utero exposure to linuron on androgen-dependent reproductive development in the male Crl:CD(SD)BR rat.

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  • 1CIIT, Research Triangle Park, 22709-2137, North Carolina, USA.


Linuron (3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1-methoxy-1-methylurea) is a herbicide that blocks androgen action in the male rat. Studies were undertaken to characterize the ability of linuron to activate transcription through the human androgen receptor (AR) in vitro and to determine whether in utero linuron exposure induces dose-responsive alterations in androgen-dependent reproductive development in the male rat. In vitro, linuron competitively antagonized transcriptional activity of the AR induced by dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in a dose-responsive manner with an equilibrium dissociation constant (K(B)) of 75.8 x 10(-8) M. Pregnant rats were administered linuron by gavage at 0, 12.5, 25, or 50 mg/kg/day (n = 11/group) from gestation day 12 to 21. Anogenital distance of resulting offspring was unaffected, whereas male areola/nipple retention was increased in a dose-responsive manner. Hypoplastic testes in adult offspring were seen in 2/56 rats (2/10 litters), 8/69 rats (4/11 litters), and 5/44 rats (3/8 litters), while hypoplastic epididymides occurred in 1/56 rats (1/10 litters), 8/69 rats (4/11 litters), and 2/44 rats (1/8 litters) in the 12.5, 25, and 50 mg/kg/day dose groups, respectively. Partial agenesis of the epididymides was observed in 3/44 rats (2/8 litters) only in the 50 mg/kg/day group. These data indicate that in utero exposure to linuron preferentially impairs testosterone-mediated, rather than DHT-mediated, reproductive development. This effect is distinctly different from the effects induced by flutamide, an AR antagonist that shares structural similarities with linuron. Furthermore, these data suggest that dose-response studies utilizing late gestational exposure to endocrine-active compounds may be more robust than the traditional or EPA-modified multigeneration protocols in identifying adverse effects.

Copyright 2000 Academic Press.

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