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RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES. The biological effects of iodinated contrast media were examined by using spermatogenesis in mouse testis as the experimental model.METHODS. Spermhead survival and abnormality assays were used as the biological end points. Diatrizoate meglumine/diatrizoate sodium and iopamidol were administered intravenously at equal rates and concentrations. Testicular uptake and clearance of these contrast agents were examined by high-performance liquid chromatography techniques. Appropriate mannitol solutions were employed as osmolality controls.RESULTS. Intravenous administration of the contrast agent or its respective mannitol control resulted in approximately a 30% decrease in spermhead count. A dose-related experiment with mannitol demonstrated that the spermhead count decreased rapidly until 600 mOsm/kg was reached, beyond which this decrease was minimal. Clearance of both contrast media was complete in approximately 4 hours. No significant increase in the induction of spermhead abnormalities was observed.CONCLUSION. Osmotic substances, such as iodinated contrast agents, affect the process of spermatogenesis.