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Toxicol Sci. 2006 Jun;91(2):456-66. Epub 2006 Mar 14.

Effects of neonatal exposure to 4-tert-octylphenol, diethylstilbestrol, and flutamide on steroidogenesis in infantile rat testis.

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Laboratory of Animal Physiology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20520 Turku, Finland.


Exposure of neonatal testis, populated by fetal-type Leydig cells, to endocrine-active compounds may have far-reaching consequences. Our aim was to resolve the sensitivity of testosterone synthesis of infant rat (Sprague-Dawley) testis to diethylstilbestrol (DES; 0.1-1.0 mg/kg), 4-tert-octylphenol (OP; 10-100 mg/kg), and Flutamide (FLU; 2.0-25 mg/kg) given by daily sc injections from birth to postnatal day 4. Testes and serum were collected on day 14 when body and testis weight, testicular histology, circulating testosterone, LH and FSH levels, and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) and 3beta-hydroxy-steroid-dehydrogenase (3beta-HSD) protein levels were determined. DES at each dose and FLU at 25 mg/kg dose reduced testis weight and the diameter of seminiferous cords. FLU caused some Leydig cell hyperplasia. Plasma testosterone was reduced in all DES animals, LH elevated in DES 0.5 mg/kg and FLU 25 mg/kg animals, and FSH reduced in the DES 1.0 mg/kg group. Basal testicular ex vivo progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)-stimulated testosterone production were decreased in DES animals. Despite a decrease in hCG-induced cyclic adenosine-3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP) production, intratesticular testosterone was increased in the FLU 10 and 25 mg/kg groups. OP 100 mg/kg elevated hCG-induced progesterone production only. No changes were seen in 3beta-HSD protein levels in any treatment group. StAR levels were reduced in DES animals. The results indicate the sensitivity of postnatal fetal-type Leydig cells to endocrine-active compounds. Suppression of StAR expression level was an early sign of the DES-induced steroidogenic lesion. FLU-induced changes suggest the importance of androgen receptor-mediated regulation of testosterone synthesis in the postnatal rat testis. Octylphenol appeared less effective in bringing about acute steroidogenic changes.

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