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Spermatogenesis. 2011 Oct;1(4):283-290. Epub 2011 Oct 1.

Environmental contaminants: Is male reproductive health at risk?

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  • 1The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research; Center for Biomedical Research; The Population Council; New York, NY USA.


Contaminants such as cadmium, bisphenol A and lead pollute our environment and affect male reproductive function. There is evidence that toxicant exposure adversely affects fertility. Cadmium and bisphenol A exert their effects in the testis by perturbing blood-testis barrier function, which in turn affects germ cell adhesion in the seminiferous epithelium because of a disruption of the functional axis between these sites. In essence, cadmium mediates its adverse effects at the blood-testis barrier by disrupting cell adhesion protein complexes, illustrating that toxicants can dismantle cell junctions in the testis. Herein, we will discuss how environmental toxicants may affect reproductive function. We will also examine how these adverse effects on fertility may be mediated in part by adipose tissue and bone. Lastly, we will briefly discuss how toxicant-induced damage may be effectively managed so that fertility can be maintained. It is hoped that this information will offer a new paradigm for future studies.

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