Boric Acid Is Reproductively Toxic to Adult Xenopus laevis, but Not Endocrine Active

Toxicol Sci. 2016 Nov;154(1):16-26. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfw138. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


The potential reproductive and endocrine toxicity of boric acid (BA) in the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, was evaluated using a 30-day exposure of adult frogs. Adult female and male frogs established as breeders were exposed to a culture water control and 4 target (nominal) test concentrations [5.0, 7.5, 10.0, and 15 mg boron (B)/L, equivalent to 28.5, 42.8, 57.0, and 85.5 mg BA/L] using flow-through diluter exposure system. The primary endpoints measured were adult survival, growth (weight and snout-vent length [SVL]), necropsy data, reproductive fecundity, and development of progeny (F1) from the exposed frogs. Necropsy endpoints included gonad weight, gonado-somatic index (GSI), ovary profile (oocyte normalcy and stage distribution), sperm count, and dysmorphology. Endocrine endpoints included plasma estradiol (E2), testosterone (T), dihydrotestosteone (DHT), gonadal CYP 19 (aromatase), and gonadal 5α-reductase (5-AR). BA exposure to adult female X. laevis increased the proportion of immature oocytes (< stage II) in the ovaries of females, reduced sperm counts and increased sperm cell dysmorphology frequency in male frogs exposed to 15 mg B/L. No effects on the other general, developmental (F1), or endocrine endpoints were observed. Based on the results of the present study, the no observed adverse effects concentration (NOAEC) for the reproductive endpoints was 10 mg B/L; and 15 mg B/L for reproductive fecundity, F1 embryo larval development, and endocrine function. These results confirmed that although BA is capable of inducing reproductive toxicity at high concentrations, it is not an endocrine disrupting agent.

Keywords: Xenopus laevis; boric acid; endocrine; reproductive toxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Boric Acids / toxicity*
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Female
  • Gonads / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Reproduction
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Xenopus laevis*


  • Boric Acids
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical