Low-dose perinatal DES exposure affected behaviors

DiEthylStilbestrol may have a different effect on the sexual and aggressive behaviors depending on the dose used

2004 Study Abstract

To estimate the potential risk of perinatal exposure to estrogenic endocrine disrupters, pregnant female mice received daily oral administration of diethylstilbestrol (DES; either 0.3 or 3 microg/kg body weight) dissolved in corn oil from gestation days 11 to 17 and from postnatal days 2 to 6.

Low-dose perinatal diethylstilbestrol exposure affected behaviors and hypothalamic estrogen receptor-alpha-positive cells in the mouse, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Neurotoxicology and teratology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 15019959, 2004 Mar-Apr.

Image credit KnitSpirit.

Multiple behaviors that are sexually dimorphic were examined, and the numbers of estrogen receptor-alpha and tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive (ER-IR and TH-IR) cells in some brain loci related to these behaviors were investigated.

Perinatal exposure to DES caused significantly enhanced open-field activity in both males and females and significantly poorer passive avoidance performance in males.  In addition, a significant increase in the number of ER-IR cells in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) was demonstrated for the first time. The DES-induced increases in the sexual and aggressive behaviors, although statistically nonsignificant, and the increase in the number of ER-IR cells did not agree with those obtained in previous studies using high-dose DES, which suggests that DES may have a different effect on these endpoints depending on the dose used.

The relationship between the increase in ER-IR cells and behavioral changes should be further examined.

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