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Biol Reprod. 1997 Aug;57(2):255-66.

Chronic administration of the environmental pollutant 4-tert-octylphenol to adult male rats interferes with the secretion of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, and testosterone.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, Columbia 29208, USA.


4-Tert-octylphenol (OP) is a prevalent environmental pollutant that has been shown to exert both toxic and estrogenic effects on mammalian cells. The effects of OP on the reproductive system of adult male vertebrates are virtually unknown. In the present study, we investigated the effects of chronic exposure to OP on reproductive hormone secretion in the adult male rat and compared the results qualitatively with those observed in other male rats treated chronically with estrogen. We injected corn oil vehicle or OP (20 or 80 mg) or estradiol valerate (EV; 0.8 or 8 microg) in oil s.c. into 2-mo-old male rats thrice weekly for either 1 or 2 mo. The 80-mg dosage of OP and one or both dosages of EV had the following effects: decreased anterior pituitary gland (APG) and serum LH and FSH concentrations; increased APG and serum prolactin (PRL) concentrations; increased APG/body weight ratios; decreased serum testosterone concentrations; decreased hematocrit; and decreased food consumption and body weight gain. To evaluate the response of the hypothalamus-APG to gonadal removal, we orchidectomized some of the rats after the end of treatment and decapitated them 3 wk later. In orchidectomized controls, serum LH and FSH concentrations rose markedly and serum PRL concentrations decreased. Similar changes were seen in orchidectomized rats treated previously with 20 or 80 mg OP. Moreover, there were no differences in mean serum LH, FSH, or PRL concentrations between controls and rats treated previously with either dosage of OP at 3 wk after orchidectomy. The results demonstrate that chronic administration of OP to adult male rats can adversely affect the secretion of reproductive hormones and strongly suggest that OP exerts these effects by acting like an estrogen. The opposite changes in LH, FSH, and PRL secretion observed after cessation of treatment with OP and orchidectomy suggest that chronic treatment with OP under the conditions of the present study did not result in any significant permanent deleterious effects on gonadotrophs or lactotrophs or the hypothalamic neurons controlling the secretion of the gonadotropins or PRL.

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