Phenobarbital (PB) and Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), an anti-epileptic drug and a plasticizer used in flexible polyvinylchloride formulations, respectively, are well-known typical hepatotoxicants. This study investigated the effects of PB (100 mg/kg/day) or DEHP (500 mg/kg/day) on the endocrine system in intact juvenile/peripubertal male rats exposed for 31 days beginning on postnatal day 23. Slight hormone level changes, histopathological changes in thyroid gland or induction of UDPglucuronosyltransferase in liver were observed in both the PB and DEHP groups. One of the assumed mechanisms inducing thyroid effects is predictable to be secondary changes based on the enhancement in thyroid hormone metabolism via the induction of hepatic microsomal enzymes. No reproductive systemrelated changes in organ weights, histopathology, and sexual maturation were observed in both groups. Lower testosterone level was observed in the PB group. CYP2B and CYP3A, which are involved in testosterone metabolism, were induced in liver of the PB group. There was no change of 17ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in testis of both groups. Lower testosterone level in the PB-treated male rats was attributed to an indirect, hepatotoxicity-associated effect on the reproductive system and not to direct effects on testis such as the antiandrogenic activity and the inhibition of steroidogenesis. These results did not indicate that PB or DEHP exposure affects the endocrine system directly.
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