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Spermatogenic disturbance induced by di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is significantly prevented by treatment with antioxidant vitamins in the rat


Masahiro Itoh Dr Department of Anatomy, Kagawa Medical University, Miki-cho, Kita-gun, Kagawa 761–0793, Japan.


Phthalate esters, now regarded as endocrine disruptors, are widely used in the plastics industry. In particular, di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is produced in large quantities, and is used in blood storage bags, catheters and haemodialysis instruments. Previous studies have demonstrated that treatment of rats with DEHP induces testicular atrophy with liver enlargement, although the precise nature and mechanism of the action of DEHP on these organs remains unclear. In the present study, we produced an experimental model of DEHP-induced spermatogenic disturbance in rats by feeding them a DEHP-containing diet. Liver enlargement occurred in rats fed either a 1 or 2% DEHP-containing diet. However, testicular atrophy accompanied by aspermatogenesis was induced by feeding with the 2% but not with the 1% DEHP-containing diet. This suggests that the critical DEHP dose for gonadotoxicity is higher than that for hepatotoxicity. Using the 2% DEHP-dose, the effect of simultaneous administration of antioxidant vitamins (= vitamins C and E) was next examined. It was found that the vitamin supplementation significantly prevented the testicular injury. The results suggest that antioxidant vitamins can protect the testes from DEHP-toxicity.

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