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Int J Androl. 2010 Apr;33(2):333-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2009.01023.x. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

Phthalate exposure and asthma in children.

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Public Health Sciences, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden.


During the last decades more than 100 000 new chemicals have been introduced to the environment. Many of these new chemicals and many common consumer products that include these have been shown to be toxic in animal studies and an increasing body of evidence suggests that they are also impacting human health. Among the suspect chemicals, the endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are of particular concern. One such chemical group is the phthalates, used in soft poly vinyl chloride (PVC) material and in a huge number of consumer products. During the same period of time that the prevalence of these modern chemicals has increased, there has been a remarkable increase in several chronic illnesses, including asthma and allergy in children. In this article we outline the scientific knowledge on phthalate exposure for asthma and airway diseases in children by examining epidemiological and experimental peer review data for potential explanatory mechanisms. Epidemiological data point to a possible correlation between phthalate exposure and asthma and airway diseases in children. Experimental studies present support for an adjuvant effect on basic mechanisms in allergic sensitization by several phthalates. Despite variations in the experimental design and reported result in the individual studies, a majority of published reports have identified adjuvant effects on Th2 differentiation, production of Th2 cytokines and enhanced levels of Th2 promoted immunoglobulins (mainly IgG1 but also IgE) in mice. A limited amount of data do also suggest phthalate-induced enhancement of mast cell degranulation and eosinophilic infiltration which are important parts in the early inflammation phase. Thus, some of the early key mechanisms in the pathology of allergic asthma could possibly be targeted by phthalate exposure. But the important questions of clinical relevance of real life exposure and identification of molecular targets that can explain interactions largely remain to be answered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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