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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Morphology and morphometry of the reproductive organs in prepubertal and postpubertal male pigs exposed to di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate before puberty: Precocious development of bulbourethral glands

Ljungvall, Karl; Veeramachaneni, D. N. Rao; Hou, Mi; Hulten, Fredrik; Magnusson, Ulf


In a split-litter design experiment, male piglets were exposed orally three times weekly to 300 mg/kg of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) or placebo between three and seven weeks of age. The effects on the reproductive organs were examined immediately after the exposure at seven weeks of age in one sub-group, and postpuberally at nine months of age in the other. Morphological features of testes were unaffected at either age group; there were no differences (p > 0.05) between the treatments in number of Sertoli cells (as identified by immunostaining with GATA-4 antibodies), percent area of Leydig cells (as detected by 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase histochemistry), or incidence of germinal epithelial lesions (histopathology of H&E-stained (hematoxylin and eosin) sections). Three of the seven DEHP-treated animals in seven-week-old group had bulbourethral glands at a stage of maturation far more advanced than that of controls. While there were no obvious differences in the cellular composition between the treatment groups in nine-month-old animals, the bulbourethral glands were heavier (p < 0.05) in DEHP-treated boars. Collectively, these features indicate that adolescent exposure to DEHP induces precocious maturity of bulbourethral glands in pigs with persistent effects lasting into adulthood. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


pig; phthalates; testes; bulbourthral glands

Published in

2008, volume: 70, number: 6, pages: 984-991

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Veeramachaneni, D.N. Rao
Colorado State University
Hou, Mi
Karolinska University Hospital
Hultén, Fredrik
Medical Products Agency
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Centre for Reproductive Biology in Uppsala (CRU)

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Veterinary Science

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