The Antifungal Vinclozolin Causes Prostatitis in Aging Rat Offspring
One ordinarily thinks of antibiotics as a remedy for prostatitis. Is it possible that some classes of antibiotics are actually one of the causes of prostatitis?
One of the more unusual forms of prostatitis is acute, fungal prostatitis. For example, blastomyces, a fungus commonly associated with dermatitis, can infect the prostate. As with bacterial infections, fungal infections are treated with antibiotics, albeit a different class from the one used to treat bacterial prostatitis. In other words, antibiotics are considered a treatment of prostatitis.
While it may seem totally ironic, it turns out that vinclozolin, an antifungal used principally in agricultural work, e.g. growing grapes, can cause profound changes in male sexual organs. Among these changes seen in the aging offspring of exposed laboratory rats are reduced anogenital distance and:
- purulent prostatitis
- seminal vesicle inflammation with atrophy
- Leydig cell hyperplasia
- accelerated vaginal opening (in female offspring)
The mechanism by which vinclozolin causes these changes appears to be hormone sensitive, in that testosterone supplementation blocks it. In any event, these experimental data illustrate that the triggering event in some forms of prostatitis may be chemical, not infectious.
They also demonstrate that the triggering event may not actually be a direct toxin applied to the prostate. Rather, it may be a toxic exposure applied to a parent.
We are not aware of any data to show that exposure to antifungals in humans leads to development of prostatitis in their aging offspring. Still, at the very least, the vinclozolin example illustrates that the search for the causes of prostatitis may benefit from a broadening to include chemical agents and an examination of parental exposures.