Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jun;110 Suppl 3:435-9.

Androgens and environmental antiandrogens affect reproductive development and play behavior in the Sprague-Dawley rat.

Author information

Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.


In mammals, exposure to androgens early in development is essential for masculinization of the male reproductive phenotype. Male fetuses exposed to antiandrogens during perinatal life are permanently demasculinized in their morphology and physiology, whereas exposure to exogenous androgens permanently masculinizes females. In some litter-bearing species, proximity(italic) in utero(/italic) of females to males can partially masculinize female siblings and alter their responsiveness to endocrine-disrupting compounds. However, in our strain of rat (CD-SD Charles River), intrauterine position does not significantly influence testosterone concentrations and anogenital distance of fetuses. In comparison, administration of testosterone propionate to pregnant females, at doses that doubled fetal female testosterone levels, did masculinize the reproductive system. Discovery of androgen-active chemicals in the environment has placed increased emphasis on describing the reproductive and behavioral effects of both natural and environmental androgens and antiandrogens. Recently, the effects of an antiandrogen, vinclozolin, on the brain and behavior were cited as a special concern by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its risk assessment of this pesticide. In rats, one such behavior that is perinatally organized by androgens is social play. Males play more than females, and administration of exogenous androgens during the neonatal period alters the juvenile expression of this sexually dimorphic behavior. Vinclozolin is an androgen receptor antagonist that inhibits androgen-dependent tissue growth in vivo. We were interested in whether developmental exposure to vinclozolin could also alter androgen-dependent behaviors such as play. Neonatal male rats were injected on postnatal days (PNDs) 2 and 3 with corn oil, the pharmacologic antiandrogen flutamide (50 mg/kg), or vinclozolin (200 mg/kg). On PNDs 36-37 animals were observed for social play. Behaviors associated with general social activity such as sniffing and dorsal contact were unaffected by treatment. However, play behavior in males treated with flutamide or vinclozolin was significantly reduced, resembling levels of play characteristic of females rather than untreated males. Therefore, this study demonstrates that perinatal exposure to vinclozolin, an environmental antiandrogen, can alter androgen-dependent play behavior in the male rat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center