Atrazine and the Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis in Sexually Maturing Precocial Birds
The herbicide atrazine is a putative endocrine disruptor. The present studies investigated the effects of atrazine in male Japanese quail during sexual maturation. Atrazine was administered for 2 weeks in the diet or systemically to birds under long photoperiods. Atrazine had no effect on mortality but depressed both feed intake and growth (average daily gain [ADG] in g/day) at dietary concentrations of 1000 ppm. Atrazine in the diet at 10 ppm, but at no other concentrations, increased testes weight and gonadal-somatic-index and decreased the seminiferous tubule diameter-to-testis weight ratio. Atrazine in the diet at 1000 ppm increased circulating concentrations of testosterone. Dietary atrazine at 10 ppm increased circulating concentrations of estradiol. Atrazine administered systemically exerted no effect on indices of growth or reproduction. Atrazine did not mimic the effects of either estradiol or tamoxifen in male quail; thus, atrazine did not exhibit overt estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity. It is concluded that atrazine up to 1000 ppm in the diet may exert some effects on reproductive development in sexually maturing male birds, but these are inconsistent and modest.