Effects of prenatal hydrocortisone acetate exposure on fertility and sexual behavior in male rats

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Pereira, OCM
Arena, A. C.
Yasuhara, F.
Kempinas, W. G.

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Elsevier B.V.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of hydrocortisone during the prenatal period and its later repercussions on the fertility and sexual behavior of male rats. Pregnant rats were treated (s.c.) with hydrocortisone acetate, at 1.5 mg/day on the 17th, 18th, and 19th days of gestation. Decreased body weight and no alteration in anogenital distance were observed in male offspring. Adulthood, presented reductions of body weight, plasma testosterone levels, and seminal-vesicle wet weight without secretion as well as no alteration in the wet weights of the testes, epididymis, and seminal vesicle with secretion in the treated group. Males exposed to hydrocortisone during the prenatal period were able to mate with normal females, which became pregnant but exhibited an increased number of post-implantation losses. In spite of this, these treated males exhibited decreased male sexual behavior and the appearance of female sexual behavior after these male rats were castrated and pretreated with exogenous estrogen. These results indicate that exposure to hydrocortisone in the later stages of pregnancy may have a long-term effect on the fertility and sexual behavior of mate rats, suggesting an incomplete masculinization and defeminization of the central nervous system. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. (USA). All rights reserved.



fertility, hydrocortisone, rat, reproduction, sexual behavior, sexual differentiation, testosterone

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Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. San Diego: Academic Press Inc. Elsevier B.V., v. 38, n. 1, p. 36-42, 2003.