Lack of Prenatal Testosterone Surge in Fetal Rats Exposed to Alcohol: Alterations in Testicular Morphology and Physiology

Robert F. McGivern*, William J. Raum, Eduardo Salido, Eva Redei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pregnant Sprague‐Dawley rats were administered a liquid alcohol diet (35% ethanol‐derived calories), a pair‐fed isocaloric diet, or dry food pellets beginning on Day 14 of gestation and continuing until parturition. Testosterone levels in male fetuses were measured on Days 17 through 20 of gestation. The normal surge of testosterone on Days 18 and 19 was present in controls, but notably absent in male fetuses exposed to alcohol. Light microscopic examination of the testes at birth revealed a reduction in the number of leydig cells in the alcohol exposed group and the presence of a large number of vacuoles in the seminiferous tubules. In vitro studies of fetal testes at 18 and 22 days of gestation revealed that this in utero alcohol exposure regimen produced a marked insensitivity to rat LH (10 ng/ml) stimulation of testosterone secretion compared to controls. The response to ethanol (160 mg/dl) in alcohol exposed testes was characterized by a long‐lasting suppression of testosterone compared to a large increase observed in control testes. No differences in anogenital distance were observed among the groups. Together, these data may explain some of the long‐term feminizing and demasculinizing effects on reproductive and nonreproductive sexually dimorphic behaviors observed in adult males prenatally exposed to alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-247
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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