Tributyltin (TBT) is known to disrupt the development of reproductive organs, thereby reducing fertility. The aim of this study was to evaluate the acute toxicity of TBT on the testicular development and steroid hormone production. Immature (3-week-old) male mice were given a single administration of 25, 50, or 100 mg/kg of TBT by oral gavage. Lumen formation in seminiferous tubule was remarkably delayed, and the number of apoptotic germ cells found inside the tubules was increased in the TBT-exposed animals, whereas no apoptotic signal was observed in interstitial Leydig cells. Reduced serum testosterone concentration and down-regulated expressions of the mRNAs for cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc), 17α -hydroxylase/C17-20 lyase (P45017α), 3β -hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase (3β -HSD), and 17β -hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase (17β -HSD) were also observed after TBT exposure. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that exposure to TBT is associated with induced apoptosis of testicular germ cells and inhibition of steroidogenesis by reduction in the expression of steroidogenic enzymes in interstitial Leydig cells. These adverse effects of TBT would cause serious defects in testicular development and function.
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