Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Toxicol Ind Health. 1996 May-Aug;12(3-4):515-31.

Latent effects of pesticides and toxic substances on sexual differentiation of rodents.

Author information

Developmental Reproductive Toxicology Section, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711, USA.


In humans and rodents, exposure to hormonally active chemicals during sex differentiation can produce morphological pseudohermaphrodism (Schardein, 1993; Gray, 1992). For example, hormonally active drugs like DES (estrogenic), Danazol (androgenic), and progestins cause urogenital malformations in the reproductive tracts of humans and rodents. The current discussion will present new information on the effects of toxic chemicals and pesticides that act on reproductive development via novel mechanisms, including germ cell toxicity, antiandrogenicity, and Ah-receptor binding. Information will be presented that describes how exposure during critical stages of life to synthetic chemicals present in our environment, such as benzidine-based dyes, antiandrogenic fungicides, 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), and PCB congener 169, result in abnormal rodent sex differentiation. In rodents, perinatal exposure to fetal germ cell toxicants reduced the reproductive potential of female, and permanently reduced sperm production in male progeny. Phenotypic sex differentiation, however, was unaffected by these germ cell toxicants. In contrast, antiandrogenic drugs and fungicides induced profound alterations in phenotypic sex differentiation. Effects such as hypospadias, ectopic testes, vaginal pouches, agenesis of the ventral prostate, and nipple retention in male rats were observed commonly. Although these antiandrogens induced no permanent effects in female progeny, another class of chemicals, the Ah-receptor mediated toxicants, did reduce fertility in both male and female rat offspring. Cauda epididymal sperm numbers were reduced permanently in TCDD-exposed male rat and hamster progeny, and female progeny displayed malformations of the external genitalia. Other toxicants produced dramatic alterations of sex differentiation (uterus unicornis, agenesis of the vas and epididymis, and undescended testes), via mechanisms that have not been characterized yet. Since these adult/pubertal alterations resulted from gestational and/or neonatal exposures, future studies should include a comprehensive assessment of reproductive function after perinatal exposure because the developing animal is extremely sensitive to toxicants during sex differentiation, and many of the effects are difficult to detect until late in life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Support Center