Two chemicals previously shown to have estrogenic activity, bisphenol A and octylphenol, were examined for their effects on accessory reproductive organs and daily sperm production in male offspring of mice fed these chemicals during pregnancy. These chemicals are used in the manufacture of plastics and other products, and have been detected in food and water consumed by animals and people. From gestation day 11-17 female mice were fed an average concentration (dissolved in oil) of bisphenol A or octylphenol of 2 ng/g body weight (2 ppb) and 20 ng/g (20 ppb). The 2 ppb dose of bisphenol A is lower than the amount reported to be swallowed during the first hour after application of a plastic dental sealant (up to 931 micrograms; 13.3 ppb in a 70 kg adult). We found that the 2 ng/g dose of bisphenol A permanently increased the size of the preputial glands, but reduced the size of the epididymides; these organs develop from different embryonic tissues. At 20 ng/g, bisphenol A significantly decreased efficiency of sperm production (daily sperm production per g testis) by 20% relative to control males. The only significant effect of octylphenol was a reduction in daily sperm production and efficiency of sperm production at the 2 ng/g dose. A new approach to studying physiologically relevant doses of environmental endocrine disruptors is discussed, particularly with regard to the development of the reproductive organs, the brain, and behavior.
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