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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Oxidative DNA damage induced by toluene is involved in its male reproductive toxicity.

Toluene is widely used as an organic solvent in various industries and commercial products. Recent investigations have shown that toluene may induce male reproductive dysfunctions and carcinogenicity. To clarify whether the toxicity results from the interference of endocrine systems or direct damage to reproductive organs, we examined the effects of toluene on the male reproductive system in rats, comparing to those of diethylstilbestrol (DES), a potent synthetic estrogen. Toluene (50, 500 mg/kg) or DES (2 mg/kg) injected subcutaneously to male Sprague-Dawley rats once a day for 10 days decreased the epididymal sperm counts and the serum concentrations of testosterone. The mRNA level for gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor in the pituitary was decreased by DES, but not by toluene. On the contrary, 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) formation in testes, the biological marker for oxidative DNA damage, was increased by toluene but not by DES. These results suggest that toluene induces reproductive toxicity via direct oxidative damage of spermatozoa, whereas DES affects endocrine systems via the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis. Morphological findings supported the idea. To determine the mechanism of 8-oxodG formation in vivo, we examined DNA damage induced by toluene metabolic products in vitro. Minor toluene metabolites, methylhydroquinone and methylcatechols, induced oxidative DNA damage, and the methylcatechols induced NADH-mediated 8-oxodG formation more efficiently than methylhydroquinone did. We propose that oxidative DNA damage in the testis plays a role in reproductive toxicity induced by toluene.[1]


  1. Oxidative DNA damage induced by toluene is involved in its male reproductive toxicity. Nakai, N., Murata, M., Nagahama, M., Hirase, T., Tanaka, M., Fujikawa, T., Nakao, N., Nakashima, K., Kawanishi, S. Free Radic. Res. (2003) [Pubmed]
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