Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, Radiological Protection and Human Health Division, Radiobiology and Epidemiology Department, Laboratory of Experimental Toxicology, BP 17, 92262 Fontenay-aux-Roses cedex, France.
The testis is especially sensitive to pollutants, including radionuclides. Following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, several of these radionuclides were emitted and spread in the environment. Subsequently, children presented some disruptions of the endocrine system. To determine whether these disruptions were due to 137 cesium ((137)Cs) exposure, the effects of chronic contamination with low doses of (137)Cs in utero or from birth on testicular steroidogenesis in rats were studied. Contamination was continued for 9 months. No modification was observed in circulating level of hormones (17beta-estradiol, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone) following in utero or post-natal contamination. Expression of several genes involved in testicular steroidogenesis was affected (cyp19a1, fxr, sf-1), without modification of protein expression or activity. Our results suggest that growing organisms may be affected at the molecular level by (137)Cs contamination at this post-accidental dose.