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Keywords:

  • lead;
  • steroidogenesis;
  • testis;
  • endocrine disruptor;
  • testosterone

ABSTRACT

Lead (Pb) is a testicular toxicant. In the present study, we investigated the effects of maternal Pb exposure during lactation on testicular development and steroidogenesis in male offspring. Maternal mice were exposed to different concentration of lead acetate (200 or 2000 ppm) through drinking water from postnatal day (PND) 0 to PND21. As expected, a high concentration of Pb was measured in the kidneys and liver of pups whose mothers were exposed to Pb during lactation. In addition, maternal Pb exposure during lactation elevated, to a less extent, Pb content in testes of weaning pups. Testis weight in weaning pups was significantly decreased when maternal mice were exposed to Pb during lactation. The level of serum and testicular T was reduced in Pb-exposed pups. The expression of P450scc, P45017α and 17β-HSD, key enzymes for T synthesis, was down-regulated in testes of weaning pups whose mothers were exposed to Pb during lactation. Interestingly, the level of serum and testicular T remained decreased in adult offspring whose mothers were exposed to Pb during lactation. Importantly, the number of spermatozoa was significantly reduced in Pb-exposed male offspring. Taken together, these results suggest that Pb could be transported from dams to pups through milk. Maternal Pb exposure during lactation persistently disrupts testicular development and steroidogenesis in male offspring. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.