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Toxicol Sci. 2000 Dec;58(2):366-76.

The effects of atrazine on female wistar rats: an evaluation of the protocol for assessing pubertal development and thyroid function.

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National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA.


The effects of atrazine (ATR), a chlorotriazine herbicide, on the onset of puberty were evaluated in Wistar rats. Female rats were dosed by oral gavage from postnatal day(s) (PND) 22 through PND 41 with 0, 12.5, 25, 50, 100, or 200 mg ATR/kg. Vaginal opening (VO) was significantly delayed 3.4, 4.5, or greater than 6.8 days by 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg, respectively. VO had not occurred in 4 of 15 females in the 200 mg/kg group by the time of necropsies (PND 41). Body weight (bw) at necropsy was reduced in the 200 mg/kg group by 11.6%, but was not different from the control (0) in the 50 and 100 mg/kg groups. To examine the influence of reduced bw on pubertal development, a group of pair-fed controls was included whose daily food intake was dependent upon the amount consumed by their counterpart in the 200 mg/kg group. Although necropsy bw was reduced to the same extent as the ATR females, VO in the pair-fed controls was not significantly delayed. Adrenal, kidney, pituitary, ovary, and uterine weights were reduced by 200 mg/kg ATR. Serum T(3), T(4), and TSH were unaltered by ATR, which was consistent with no histopathologic/morphologic changes in the thyroid. Estrous cyclicity was monitored in a second group of females from VO to PND 149. The number of females displaying regular 4- or 5-day estrous cycles during the first 15-day interval after VO was lower in the 100 and 200 mg/kg ATR and pair-fed controls. Irregular cycles were characterized by extended periods of diestrus. By the end of the second 15-day interval (PND 57-71), no effects on estrous cyclicity were observed. These data show that ATR can delay the onset of puberty and alter estrous cyclicity in the female Wistar rat ( NOAEL of 25 mg/kg). Reduced food consumption and bw did not account for the delay in VO, because this effect was not observed in the pair-fed controls. In addition, the effect on estrous cyclicity was observed in the 100 mg/kg ATR group where no significant reduction in bw was observed.

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