Chronic toxicity of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate in rats

Toxicol Sci. 2000 Jun;55(2):433-43. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/55.2.433.


Fischer 344 rats were treated with 0, 100, 500, 2500, or 12,500 ppm di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) in the diet for up to 104 weeks. Blood and urine were analyzed at weeks 26, 52, 78, and 104 from 10 animals per sex per group. Survival was slightly but not statistically reduced for rats receiving 12,500 ppm DEHP. Body weights and food consumption were significantly reduced for rats receiving the highest dose level of DEHP and occasionally for the male 2500-ppm group. BUN and albumin were significantly higher and globulin lower at nearly every sampling interval for the 12,500-ppm group compared with the controls. There was an increase in the mean activities of AST and ALT at 104 weeks, but no statistically significant differences were seen. Erythrocyte count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit values for the 12,500-ppm group were significantly lower than controls at nearly every sampling interval. No other differences in hematology were seen. No toxicologically significant changes were observed in urinalysis. At termination, relative lung weights for the 2500- and 12,500-ppm male groups of rats were significantly higher than for the controls. Absolute and relative liver and kidney weights for the 2500- and 12,500-ppm male rats, and liver weights for 12,500-ppm female rats were higher compared with the controls. Absolute and relative testes weights for the 12, 500-ppm male rats were lower compared with the controls. All organs were examined for histopathology. The incidence of hepatocellular lesions has been reported separately and correlated with the induction of peroxisomal enzyme activity (David et al., 1999). A dose level of 500 ppm was the NOEL for peroxisome proliferation. Bilateral aspermatogenesis in the testes, castration cells in the pituitary gland, spongiosis hepatis, and pancreatic acinar cell adenoma were observed for 12,500-ppm male rats. Aspermatogenesis and spongiosis hepatis were observed for 2500-ppm male rats, and aspermatogenesis was seen at 500 ppm. DEHP exposure exacerbated age-, species- or strain-related lesions such as mineralization of the renal papilla and chronic progressive nephropathy in male rats. Kupffer cell pigmentation and renal tubule pigmentation were seen in male and female 12,500-ppm rats. The increased incidence of spongiosis hepatis correlated with increased palmitoyl CoA oxidase activity, but the incidence of pancreatic acinar cell adenoma was increased only at the highest dose level of 12,500 ppm. These lesions, although typical of those seen with other peroxisome proliferators, may respond differently depending on the potency of the peroxisome proliferator. A dose level of 500 ppm (28.9-36.1 mg/kg/day) was considered to be the NOAEL.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / chemically induced
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / toxicity*
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Erythrocyte Count / drug effects
  • Female
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / drug effects
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Peroxisome Proliferators / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Serum Albumin / drug effects
  • Serum Globulins / drug effects
  • Toxicity Tests


  • Hemoglobins
  • Peroxisome Proliferators
  • Serum Albumin
  • Serum Globulins
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate