Journal Article

The Effect of Atrazine on Puberty in Male Wistar Rats: An Evaluation in the Protocol for the Assessment of Pubertal Development and Thyroid Function

T. E. Stoker, S. C. Laws, D. L. Guidici and R. L. Cooper

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 58, issue 1, pages 50-59
Published in print November 2000 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online November 2000 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
The Effect of Atrazine on Puberty in Male Wistar Rats: An Evaluation in the Protocol for the Assessment of Pubertal Development and Thyroid Function

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Since atrazine (ATR), a chlorotriazine herbicide, has been shown previously to alter the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin (PRL) through a direct effect on the central nervous system (CNS), we hypothesized that exposure to ATR in the EDSTAC male pubertal protocol (juvenile to peripubertal) would alter the development of the male rat reproductive system. We dosed intact male Wistar rats from postnatal day (PND) 23 to 53 and examined several reproductive endpoints. ATR (0, 12.5, 25, 50, 100, 150, or 200 mg/kg) was administered by gavage and an additional pair-fed group was added to compare the effects of any decreased food consumption in the high dose group. Preputial separation (PPS) was significantly delayed in the 12.5, 50, 100, 150, and 200 mg/kg ATR dose groups. PPS was also delayed in the pair-fed group, although significantly less than in the high dose-ATR group. The males were killed on PND 53 or 54, and pituitary, thyroid, testes, epididymides, seminal vesicles, and ventral and lateral prostates were removed. ATR (50 to 200 mg/kg) treatment resulted in a significant reduction in ventral prostate weights, as did the reduced food consumption of the pair-fed group. Testes weights were unaffected by atrazine treatment. Seminal vesicle and epididymal weights were decreased in the high dose-ATR group and the control pair-fed group. However, the difference in epididymal weights was no longer significantly different when body weight was entered as a covariable. Intratesticular testosterone was significantly decreased in the high dose-ATR group on PND 45, but apparent decreases in serum testosterone were not statistically significantly on PND 53. There was a trend for a decrease in luteinizing hormone (LH) as the dose of ATR increased; however, dose group mean LH was not different from controls. Due to the variability of serum prolactin concentrations on PND 53, no significant difference was identified. Although prolactin is involved in the maintenance of LH receptors prior to puberty, we observed no difference in LH receptor number at PND 45 or 53. Serum estrone and estradiol showed dose-related increases that were significant only in the 200 mg/kg-ATR group. No differences were observed in thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) between the ATR groups and the control; however triiodothyronine (T3) was elevated in the high dose-ATR group. No differences in hormone levels were observed in the pair-fed animals. These results indicate that ATR delays puberty in the male rat and its mode of action appears to be altering the secretion of steroids and having subsequent effects on the development of the reproductive tract, which appear to be due to ATR's effects on the CNS. Thus, ATR tested positive in the pubertal male screen that the Endocrine-Disrupter Screening and Testing Advisory Committee (EDSTAC) is considering as an optional screen for endocrine disrupters.

Keywords: atrazine; preputial separation; hormones; puberty; aromatase; reproductive tract

Journal Article.  8278 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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