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An evaluation of the mouse sperm morphology test and other sperm tests in nonhuman mammals. A report of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gene-Tox Program



An evaluation of the mouse sperm morphology test and other sperm tests in nonhuman mammals. A report of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gene-Tox Program



Mutation Research 115(1): 1-72



The literature on the mouse sperm morphology test and on other sperm tests in nonhuman mammals was reviewed (a) to evaluate the relationship of these tests to chemically induced spermatogenic dysfunction, germ-cell mutagenicity, and carcinogenicity, and (b) to make an interspecies comparison to chemicals. A total of 71 papers were reviewed. The mouse sperm morphology test was used to assess the effects of 154 of the 182 chemical agents covered. 4 other murine sperm tests were also used: the induction of acrosomal abnormalities (4 agents), reduction in sperm counts, (6 agents), motility (5 agents), and F1 sperm morphology (7 agents)). In addition, sperm tests for the spermatogenic effects of 35 agents were done in 9 nonmurine mammalian species; these included analyses for sperm count, motility, and morphology, using a large variety of study designs. For the mouse sperm morphology test, 41 agents were judged by the reviewing committee to be positive inducers of sperm-head shape abnormalities, 103 were negative, and 10 were inconclusive. To evaluate the relationship between changes in sperm morphology and germ cell mutagenicity, the effects of 41 agents on mouse sperm shape were compared to available data from 3 different mammalian germ-cell mutational tests (specific locus, heritable translocation, and dominant lethal). The mouse sperm morphology test was found to be highly sensitive to germ-cell mutagens; 100% of the known mutagens were correctly identified as positives in the sperm morphology test. Data are insufficient at present to access the rate of false positives. Although it is biologically unclear why one might expect changes in sperm morphology to be related to carcinogenesis, we found that (a) a positive response in the mouse sperm morphology test is highly specific for carcinogenic potential (100% for the agents surveyed), and (b) overall, only 50% of carcinogens were positive in the test (i.e., sensitivity approximately equal to 50%). Since many carcinogens do not produce abnormally shaped sperm even at lethal doses, negative findings with the sperm test cannot be used to classify agents as noncarcinogens. We conclude that the mouse sperm morphology test has potential use for identifying chemicals that induce spermatogenic dysfunction and perhaps heritable mutations. Insufficient numbers of chemicals agents have been studied by the other sperm tests to permit similar comparisons. A comparison of 25 chemicals tested with sperm counts, motility, and morphology in at least 2 species (including man, mouse and 9 other mammals) demonstrated good agreement in response among species. With further study, interspecies comparisons of chemically induced sperm changes may be useful for predicting and evaluating human effects.

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Accession: 042242176

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PMID: 6835246

DOI: 10.1016/0165-1110(83)90014-3


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