Male reproductive tract lesions at 6, 12, and 18 months of age following in utero exposure to di(n-butyl) phthalate

Toxicol Pathol. Jan-Feb 2004;32(1):79-90. doi: 10.1080/01926230490265894.


In utero exposure of male rats to the antiandrogen di(n-butyl) phthalate (DBP) leads to decreased anogenital distance (AGD) on postnatal day (PND) 1, increased areolae retention on PND 13, malformations in the male reproductive tract, and histologic testicular lesions including marked seminiferous epithelial degeneration and a low incidence of Leydig cell (LC) adenomas on PND 90. One objective of this study was to determine the incidence and persistence of decreased AGD, increased areolae retention, and LC adenomas in adult rats following in utero DBP exposure. A second objective was to determine whether AGD and areolae retention during the early postnatal period are associated with lesions in the male reproductive tract. Pregnant Crl:CD(SD)BR rats were gavaged with corn oil or DBP at 100 or 500 mg/kg/day, 10 dams per group. Three replicates of rats (n = 30 rats per replicate) were exposed from gestation day 12 to 21 and the male offspring allowed to mature to 6, 12, or 18 months of age. Gross malformations in the male reproductive tract and histologic lesions in the testes were similar to those previously described. However, testicular dysgenesis, a lesion of proliferating LCs and aberrant tubules that has not been previously described in DBP-exposed testes, was diagnosed. The incidence of this lesion was approximately 20% unilateral and 7-18% bilateral in the high-dose group and was similar among all ages examined, implicating a developmental alteration rather than an age-related change. AGD and areolae retention were found to be permanent changes following in utero exposure to 500 mg/kg/day of DBP. Decreased AGD was a sensitive predictor of lesions in the male reproductive tract, relatively small changes in AGD were associated with a significant incidence of male reproductive malformations. In utero DBP exposure induced proliferative developmental lesions, some of which would have been diagnosed as LC adenomas by the morphological criteria set forth by the Society of Toxicologic Pathology. However, these lesions were dissimilar to traditional LC adenomas as the LCs were poorly differentiated and the lesions contained aberrant seminiferous tubules. While the morphology and incidence of this DBP-induced testicular developmental lesion has been fully characterized by this study, the detailed pathogenesis warrants further investigation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / etiology
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Dibutyl Phthalate / administration & dosage
  • Dibutyl Phthalate / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Male / drug effects*
  • Genitalia, Male / pathology
  • Leydig Cell Tumor / etiology
  • Leydig Cell Tumor / pathology
  • Longevity / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sexual Maturation / drug effects
  • Testis / abnormalities
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Dibutyl Phthalate