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Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2006 May 31;4:30.

Pesticide exposure: the hormonal function of the female reproductive system disrupted?

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. r.bretveld@epib.umcn.nl

Abstract

Some pesticides may interfere with the female hormonal function, which may lead to negative effects on the reproductive system through disruption of the hormonal balance necessary for proper functioning. Previous studies primarily focused on interference with the estrogen and/or androgen receptor, but the hormonal function may be disrupted in many more ways through pesticide exposure. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the various ways in which pesticides may disrupt the hormonal function of the female reproductive system and in particular the ovarian cycle. Disruption can occur in all stages of hormonal regulation: 1. hormone synthesis; 2. hormone release and storage; 3. hormone transport and clearance; 4. hormone receptor recognition and binding; 5. hormone postreceptor activation; 6. the thyroid function; and 7. the central nervous system. These mechanisms are described for effects of pesticide exposure in vitro and on experimental animals in vivo. For the latter, potential effects of endocrine disrupting pesticides on the female reproductive system, i.e. modulation of hormone concentrations, ovarian cycle irregularities, and impaired fertility, are also reviewed. In epidemiological studies, exposure to pesticides has been associated with menstrual cycle disturbances, reduced fertility, prolonged time-to-pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, and developmental defects, which may or may not be due to disruption of the female hormonal function. Because pesticides comprise a large number of distinct substances with dissimilar structures and diverse toxicity, it is most likely that several of the above-mentioned mechanisms are involved in the pathophysiological pathways explaining the role of pesticide exposure in ovarian cycle disturbances, ultimately leading to fertility problems and other reproductive effects. In future research, information on the ways in which pesticides may disrupt the hormonal function as described in this review, can be used to generate specific hypotheses for studies on the effects of pesticides on the ovarian cycle, both in toxicological and epidemiological settings.

PMID:
16737536
PMCID:
PMC1524969
DOI:
10.1186/1477-7827-4-30
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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