Estrogenicity of parabens revisited: Impact of parabens on early pregnancy and an uterotrophic assay in mice
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Parabens, a class of preservatives routinely added to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and foods, have estrogenic properties. Given that intrauterine implantation of fertilized ova in inseminated females can be disrupted by minute levels of exogenous estrogens, we assessed the impact of parabens upon early gestation. In Experiment 1, butylparaben was administered subcutaneously in several doses ranging from 0.05 to 35 mg/animal/day to inseminated CF-1 mice on days 1-4 of pregnancy. Butylparaben exposure did not affect litter size, the number of pups born, postnatal day 3 litter weights, or the number of pups surviving to postnatal day 5. In contrast, administration of 500 ng/animal/day 17beta-estradiol terminated all pregnancies. In Experiment 2, propylparaben was subcutaneously administered to inseminated CF-1 mice on gestational days 1-4. Dams were sacrificed on gestation day 6 and the number of implantation sites was counted. Propylparaben had no impact on the number of implantation sites observed. Since Experiments 1 and 2 did not yield the anticipated results, an uterotrophic assay was conducted in Experiment 3 to re-evaluate the in vivo estrogenicity of parabens. Ovariectomized CF-1 and CD-1 mice were administered butylparaben in doses ranging from 0.735 to 35 mg per animal for three consecutive days. Mice were sacrificed on the fourth day, and uterine mass was recorded. There was no effect of butylparaben on uterine wet or dry mass at any dose in either strain. In contrast, administration of 17beta-estradiol consistently increased uterine mass in both strains. These data indicate that the estrogen-sensitive period of implantation is not vulnerable to paraben exposure, and that the in vivo estrogenicity of parabens may not be as potent as previously reported.
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