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Andrologia. 2004 Dec;36(6):337-45.

The male reproductive system and its susceptibility to endocrine disrupting chemicals.

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Center of Dermatology and Andrology, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany.


In the past years, there has been increased interest in assessing the relationship between impaired male fertility and environmental factors. Human male fertility is a complex process and therefore a great variety of sites may be affected by exogenous noxae. Lifestyle factors as well as various environmental and occupational agents may impair male fertility. Many studies have been published reporting on reproductive dysfunctions in male animals and humans. Especially environmental pollutants with endocrine activity are discussed as a possible cause of this detrimental development. Evidence from animal experiments show that substances with oestrogenic and antiandrogenic properties may cause hypospadia, cryptorchidism, reduction of sperm density and an increase of testicular tumours. Many adverse effects on animal male fertility have been documented for phthalates and some chlorinated hydrocarbons such as polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins. For other chemicals such as bisphenol A and nonylphenols animal data are conflicting. Environmental pollutants may mediate their effects by receptor binding, modulation of hormone-regulated mechanisms or direct toxic effects. Data on environmental chemicals and human male fertility are scarce, and risk assessment is mostly based on the results of animal studies. However, there are indications that exposure to endocrine active chemicals during early development may alter hormone responsiveness in adulthood. Furthermore, some of the chemicals are found in fluids that are associated with human reproduction, such as follicular fluid, seminal fluid and cervical mucus. Recent studies suggest a correlation between pesticide exposure and standard semen parameters as well as in vitro fertilization rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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