DRUG AND CHEMICAL TOXICOLOGY, vol.34, no.4, pp.379-389, 2011 (SCI-Expanded)
Phthalates are abundantly produced plasticizers, and di(ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is the most widely used derivative in various consumer products and medical devices. Animal studies show that DEHP and various other phthalates cause reproductive and developmental toxicity. Although the evidences are limited, it seems reasonable that DEHP may have a potential for similar adverse effects in humans. Such concerns are increasing, particularly for the developing reproductive system of male infants and children. By taking into account the essentiality of selenium (Se) in testicular structure and functions and the high prevalence of inadequate Se intake in various part of the world, this study was designed to investigate the testicular toxicity of DEHP in Se-deficient male rats and to examine the possible preventive effects of Se supplementation on phthalate toxicity. Se deficiency was generated by feeding 3-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats with a <= 0.05 Se mg/kg diet for 5 weeks. Supplementation groups were on a 1 mg Se/kg diet, and DEHP-treated groups received a 1,000 mg/kg dose by gavage during the last 10 days of the feeding period. Testicular histopathology, sperm count and motility, and sperm morphology were examined, and plasma levels of sex hormones were measured. Toxicity and antiandrogenic effects of DEHP were evidenced by disturbed testicular histology and spermatogenesis, diminished testosterone, leutinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, and sperm motility. The effects of DEHP were much more pronounced in Se-deficient rats, whereas Se supplementation was found to be protective, reflecting its regulating role in cellular redox equilibrium.