Cultures of whole blood from pregnant women (4 to 6 months), premenopausal women, postmenopausal women, and normal men were grown in the presence of varying concentrations (1 × 10-5m, 2 × 10-5m, and 4 × 10-5m) of diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen and known carcinogen, to see if it had sex-related cytogenetic effects. DES induced sister chromatid exchanges in lymphocytes from pregnant and premenopausal women but had only a small effect at the highest concentration (4 × 10-5m) in lymphocytes from men and postmenopausal women. At all concentrations, the average number of sister chromatid exchanges was higher in lymphocytes from pregnant women than in those from premenopausal women. In lymphocytes from both a man and a pregnant woman, DES strongly inhibited cell proliferation in vitro. When lymphocytes from a man and a pregnant woman were cocultured in the presence of DES, only the lymphocytes of the woman responded with an increase in sister chromatid exchanges. This indicated that there is no interaction between DES and a factor present in the blood but that DES acts directly on each cell.

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This work was performed under the auspices of the United States Department of Energy.

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