Reproductive effects of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate in immature male rats and its relation to cholesterol, testosterone, and thyroxin levels

Giuliana G.K. Botelho, Munisa Golin, Aedra C. Bufalo, Rosana N. Morais, Paulo R. Dalsenter, Anderson J. Martino-Andrade

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45 Scopus citations


Phthalates are chemicals employed in several industrial products and there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that they induce numerous adverse effects on the reproductive system. This study was carried out to assess possible alterations induced by the plasticizer di(2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) on cholesterol, testosterone, and thyroxine (total T4) levels, as well as to discuss the significance of these data in global changes observed in the reproductive tract of pubertal animals. Wistar rats aged 21 days received DEHP orally at 0, 250, 500, and 750 mg/kg/day for 30 days and were examined for different reproductive endpoints. At the end of the treatment, significant decreases in relative weight of testosterone-dependent organs, delayed preputial separation, and low serum testosterone were observed at the highest DEHP dose. The plot of the relationship between DEHP dose and serum cholesterol revealed a biphasic effect. The concentration of cholesterol in serum was significantly reduced at 250 mg/kg/day DEHP but returned to control values at 750 mg/kg/day. Cholesterol levels measured in testicular tissue increased with DEHP treatment. Serum T4 levels were not affected by DEHP at any dose, indicating the absence of a link between total thyroxin concentration and phthalate effects on cholesterol levels. Taken together these results indicate that effects observed in serum and testicular cholesterol levels may reflect distinct effects of DEHP on cholesterol synthesis and usage. These results confirm and extend previously reported findings showing that alterations in cholesterol balance may play a role in the suppression of steroidogenesis induced by DEHP in rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-784
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


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