Sperm-head abnormality in germ cells following DES exposure

Testicular toxicity and mutagenicity of steroidal and non-steroidal estrogens in the male mouse, 1991


The mutagenicity and toxicity of diethylstilbestrol (DES), 17 beta-estradiol and zeranol on the male mouse germ cells were investigated with meiotic micronucleus assays in vivo and in vitro, sperm-head abnormality test and morphometry. Further, the developmental effects of DES on testicular morphology were explored.

Micronucleus induction was observed at 10(-7) M concentration of DES and 17 beta-estradiol in vitro, but other treatments yielded negative results. The micronucleus assay in vivo revealed a small number of micronuclei in early haploid spermatids 17 days after a single subcutaneous injection of DES 50 mg/kg, whereas estradiol and zeranol gave negative results. The sperm-head abnormality rates were significantly elevated 5 weeks after treatments with high doses of DES, 17 beta-estradiol and zeranol, and testicular morphometry revealed transient changes in the volume densities of testicular tissue components. Prenatal and neonatal estrogen administration resulted in permanent alterations in seminiferous epithelium and dilatation of the rete testis, but did not affect micronucleus or sperm-head abnormality rates. The mutagenicity and toxicity of hormones in the mouse testis paralleled the hormonal activity of these compounds. Early estrogenization was the most sensitive toxicity test, followed by in vitro meiotic micronucleus induction, whereas the sperm-head abnormality assay and morphological analysis did not reveal subtle changes.


  • Testicular toxicity and mutagenicity of steroidal and non-steroidal estrogens in the male mouse, Mutation research, NCBI PubMed, PMID: 1719410, 1991.
  • Featured image credit thegolfclub.

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