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Reproduction. 2014 Mar 2;147(4):489-501. doi: 10.1530/REP-13-0447. Print 2014.

Mixtures of endocrine-disrupting contaminants induce adverse developmental effects in preweaning rats.

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Division of Toxicology and Risk Assessment, National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Mørkhøj Bygade 19, DK-2860 Søborg, Denmark.


Reproductive toxicity was investigated in rats after developmental exposure to a mixture of 13 endocrine-disrupting contaminants, including pesticides, plastic and cosmetic ingredients, and paracetamol. The mixture was composed on the basis of information about high-end human exposures, and the dose levels reflecting 100, 200, and 450 times this exposure were tested. The compounds were also grouped according to their estrogenicity or anti-androgenicity, and their joint effects were tested at two different doses, with each group reflecting 200 or 450 times human exposure. In addition, a single paracetamol dose was tested (350 mg/kg per day). All exposures and a vehicle were administered by oral gavage to time-mated Wistar dams rats throughout gestation and lactation, and their offspring were assessed for reproductive effects at birth and in prepuberty. The mixture doses, which included the anti-androgenic compounds, affected the male offspring by causing decreased anogenital distance, increased nipple retention (NR), and reduced ventral prostate weights, at both medium and high doses. In addition, the weights of the levator ani/bulbocavernosus muscle (LABC) were decreased at the high dose of anti-androgen mixture. No effects were seen after exposure to the estrogenic chemicals alone, whereas males exposed solely to paracetamol showed decreased LABC weights and increased NR. Thus adverse reproductive effects were observed at mixtures reflecting 200 times high-end human exposure, which is relatively close to the safety margin covered by the regulatory uncertainty factor of 100. This suggests that highly exposed human population groups may not be sufficiently protected against mixtures of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

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