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Reprod Toxicol. 1994 Nov-Dec;8(6):495-507.

Acute cadmium exposure and ovarian steroidogenesis in cycling and pregnant rats.

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  • 1Department of Mineral Metabolism, Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Zagreb, Republic of Croatia.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect(s) of acute in vivo cadmium (Cd) exposure on steroidogenesis in rat ovaries during different reproductive states. Sprague-Dawley rats were injected subcutaneously on the day of diestrus, or on day 7 or 16 of gestation with a single dose of 0, 3, or 5 mg Cd/kg bw, and evaluated 24 h later. Serum progesterone and estradiol concentrations were determined. Whole-ovary culture was used to evaluate Cd effects on the production of progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol. Liver, kidney, spleen, ovary, placenta, and blood were analyzed for Cd and iron (Fe) concentrations. No general toxic effects, no disruption of estrous cyclicity, and no change in fetal viability were seen. Histologic evaluation revealed moderate Cd-related thecal congestion in ovaries of pregnant rats. The highest Cd concentrations, except for liver, were found in the fetal portion of the placenta. Interestingly, Cd-related decreases in Fe concentration were found in several tissues from rats in proestrus and on gestation day 8, and in fetal placenta from rats on gestation day 17. Cadmium appears to interfere with normal steroidogenesis at a number of sites in the biosynthetic pathway with serum estradiol concentration and ovarian estradiol production the most affected. Acute Cd effects on steroidogenesis are most severe in rats evaluated in proestrus or in early pregnancy, while in late pregnancy steroidogenesis is relatively unaffected.

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