In vivo exposure of female rats to toxicants may affect oocyte quality

Reprod Toxicol. May-Jun 2003;17(3):273-81. doi: 10.1016/s0890-6238(03)00009-1.


A potential endpoint for female reproductive toxicants is fertilizability of the oocytes. This endpoint has not been adequately examined for mammalian females. The objective of these studies was to evaluate fertilizability of rat oocytes following in vivo exposure to known male reproductive toxicants that exert effects via pathways that do not include endocrine disruption and to 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide, known to interfere with early follicular development. Oocytes were obtained from females following exposure and quality assessed by in vitro fertilization rate. One study evaluated fertilizability following 2 weeks exposure of females to inhaled tetrachloroethylene (2h/day, 5 days/week). The remaining studies evaluated fertilizability immediately following 2 weeks exposure via drinking water to tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, the fuel oxidants methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE), tertiary amyl methyl ether (TAME), and a metabolite of the first two ethers 2-methyl-1,2-propanediol (2M2P), and to 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide. The percentage of oocytes fertilized was reduced following inhalation exposure to tetrachloroethylene, or consumption of trichloroethylene or TAME. Fertilizability was not altered by exposures to the other reproductive toxicants or to the other fuel oxidants. Consistent with the reduced oocyte fertilizability following exposure to trichloroethylene, oocytes from exposed females had a reduced ability to bind sperm plasma membrane proteins. Female reproductive capability assessed by the endpoint, oocyte fertilizability, was reduced by exposure to trichloroethylene and inhaled tetrachloroethylene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Cyclohexanes / toxicity
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / drug effects*
  • Hazardous Substances / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Oocytes / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Solvents
  • Sperm-Ovum Interactions / drug effects*
  • Tetrachloroethylene / toxicity
  • Trichloroethylene / toxicity
  • Vinyl Compounds / toxicity


  • Cyclohexanes
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Solvents
  • Vinyl Compounds
  • Trichloroethylene
  • 4-vinyl-1-cyclohexene dioxide
  • Tetrachloroethylene