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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2005 Sep 1;207(2 Suppl):501-5.

Testicular dysgenesis syndrome and the development and occurrence of male reproductive disorders.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Turku, Kiinamyllynkatu 10, 20520 Turku, Finland.


Patients with 45,X0/46XY karyotype often present with intersex phenotype and testicular dysgenesis. These patients may also have undescended testes (cryptorchidism), hypospadias and their spermatogenesis is severely disrupted. They have a high risk for testicular cancer. These patients have the most severe form of testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS). We have hypothesized that testicular cancer, cryptorchidism, hypospadias and poor spermatogenesis are all signs of a developmental disturbance that was named as testicular dysgenesis syndrome. The hypothesis is based on clinical and epidemiological findings and on biological and experimental evidence. Signs of TDS share several risk factors, such as small birth weight (particularly being small for gestational age), and they are risk factors for each other. All of them have background in fetal development. They show strong epidemiological links so that countries with high incidence of testicular cancer, such as Denmark, tend to also have high prevalence rates of cryptorchidism and hypospadias and poor semen quality. Vice versa, in countries with good male reproductive health, e.g., in Finland, all these aspects are better than in Denmark. Although genetic abnormalities can cause these disorders, in the majority of cases, the reasons remain unclear. Adverse trends in the incidence of male reproductive disorders suggest that environmental and life style factors contribute to the problem. Endocrine disrupters are considered as prime candidates for environmental influence. Fetal exposure to high doses of dibutyl phthalate was shown to cause a TDS-like phenotype in the rats. Studies are underway to assess whether there is any exposure-outcome relation with selected chemicals (persistent organic pollutants, pesticides, phthalates) and cryptorchidism.

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