Journal Article

Male Rats Exposed to Linuron <i>in Utero</i> Exhibit Permanent Changes in Anogenital Distance, Nipple Retention, and Epididymal Malformations That Result in Subsequent Testicular Atrophy

Barry S. McIntyre, Norman J. Barlow and Paul M. D. Foster

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 65, issue 1, pages 62-70
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
Male Rats Exposed to Linuron in Utero Exhibit Permanent Changes in Anogenital Distance, Nipple Retention, and Epididymal Malformations That Result in Subsequent Testicular Atrophy

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Prenatal exposure to the herbicide linuron, a weak androgen receptor antagonist, has been shown to perturb androgen-dependent male rat reproductive development as evidenced by slight decreases in anogenital distance (AGD), increased retention of areolae/nipples, and induction of epididymal malformations in combination with testicular atrophy in the adult rat over dose levels ranging from 12.5 to 100 mg/kg/day. Studies were undertaken to determine whether linuron-mediated changes in AGD and nipple retention are permanent, whether linuron is a direct testicular toxicant, and if there was an association between areola/nipple retention and malformations. Pregnant rats were administered corn oil vehicle or linuron by gavage at 0 or 50 mg/kg/day (n = 8 controls, 20 treated) from gestation days 12 to 21. Male offspring were necropsied on postnatal days (PND) 35 and 56. Linuron-exposed male rats exhibited a significant (8%) decrease in AGD on PND 1 and a similar decrease was also observed on PND 56. Linuron-exposed male rats displayed an increase in areola retention on PND 13, as evidenced by 0.6 ± 0.5 and 3.3 ± 0.4 areolae per rat in the control and exposed groups, respectively. Male rats displayed a significant increase in nipple retention on PND 35 and 56 (collectively) of 0 ± 0.5 and 1.7 ± 0.3 nipples per rat in control and exposed groups, respectively. On PND 35, 4/51 rats (3/9 litters) from linuron-treated dams displayed enlarged testes in combination with malformed epididymides. Epididymal malformations were observed in 19/51 rats (6/9 litters) in the linuron-exposed dose group. On PND 56, grossly enlarged and edematous testes were seen in 16/56 linuron-exposed rats (6/9 litters). Epididymal lesions were observed in 23/58 rats (6/9 litters). Microscopically, all linuron-exposed animals that exhibited a testicular lesion on PND 56 also displayed an epididymal lesion. These lesions were not seen in control animals. Approximately 25 and 60% of the male offspring that had malformations of the epididymis and vas deferens did not exhibit either areolae on PND 13 or nipples at necropsy, respectively. These data indicate that in utero linuron exposure to 50 mg/kg/day results in permanent changes in AGD and nipple retention in male rats. Moreover, these findings indicate that linuron-induced testicular atrophy, which is observed in adult rats, is secondary to increased intratubular pressure resulting from obstruction of testicular fluid outflow subsequent to malformation of the epididymides. These data also suggest that although linuron-mediated retention of areolae on PND 13 and nipples at necropsy may be suggestive of altered testosterone-mediated reproductive development seen in adult rats, these endpoints are not predictive.

Keywords: AGD; nipple retention; linuron; male reproductive development; testicular atrophy; in utero exposure; gestational exposure

Journal Article.  5702 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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