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

Aspects of the testicular toxicity of phthalate esters.

Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) produced seminiferous tubular atrophy and reductions in seminal vesicle and prostate weight in 4-week-old, but not in 15-week-old rats. Di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPP) did produce atrophy in the older rats but this developed more slowly than in young animals. Coadministration of testosterone or gonadotrophins did not protect against phthalate-induced testicular toxicity but did partly reverse the depression of seminal vesicle and prostate weight. Secretion of seminiferous tubule fluid and androgen binding protein by the Sertoli cells was markedly suppressed within 1 hr of a dose of DPP or mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) in immature rats. This occurred less rapidly in mature rats. [14C]Mono-n-pentyl phthalate and [14C]MEHP penetrated the blood testis barrier only to a very limited extent. These findings and the early morphological changes in the Sertoli cells produced by DPP suggest that phthalate esters may act initially to cause Sertoli cell injury, the subsequent loss of germ cells occurring as a consequence of this. Some features of the testicular lesion could be reproduced in primary cocultures of rat Sertoli and germ cells. Structure activity studies with a range of phthalate monoesters showed good agreement between the induction of germ cell detachment in culture and testicular toxicity in vivo. Three metabolites of MEHP (metabolites V, VI, and IX) were much less toxic in culture than MEHP itself, suggesting that the latter may be the active testicular toxin from DEHP.[1]


  1. Aspects of the testicular toxicity of phthalate esters. Gray, T.J., Gangolli, S.D. Environ. Health Perspect. (1986) [Pubmed]
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