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Genetic toxicology of phthalate esters: mutagenic and other genotoxic effects.

  • G R Douglas
  • A P Hugenholtz
  • D H Blakey
Publication Date
Mar 01, 1986


The effects of DEHP on sperm morphology and on peripheral blood micronuclei were studied for 12 weeks following five subacute IP injections of DEHP at 1/6, 1/12, and 1/60 of the LD50 per day. Sperm morphology was examined in both adult mice and rats, while peripheral blood micronuclei were scored in mice up to 4 weeks after treatment. In mice, DEHP at 1/6 LD50 significantly depressed body weight gain for up to 12 weeks after treatment, and reduced epididymal sperm number by 4 weeks. Numbers of morphologically abnormal sperm did not differ from controls in the 12 weeks following treatment. In addition, DEHP did not increase the numbers of peripheral blood micronuclei. Studies in the rat indicated that exposure to doses of 1/6 and 1/12 of the LD50 per day of DEHP resulted in a reduced gain in body weight compared to controls. Testis weight, sperm number, and numbers of morphologically abnormal sperm were unaffected by DEHP following treatment. In separate experiments, DEHP did not induce sister chromatid exchange (SCE) or DNA damage in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Although DEHP is known to cause testicular atrophy in rats and to a lesser extent in mice, it did not cause an increase in abnormal sperm in either species. Together with the CHO and micronucleus data, these findings suggest that DEHP has a low probability of causing genetic damage capable of being transmitted through the male germ line.

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