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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012 May 22;355(2):208-20. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.11.015. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

Cryptorchidism and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

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Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Finland.


Prospective clinical studies have suggested that the rate of congenital cryptorchidism has increased since the 1950s. It has been hypothesized that this may be related to environmental factors. Testicular descent occurs in two phases controlled by Leydig cell-derived hormones insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) and testosterone. Disorders in fetal androgen production/action or suppression of Insl3 are mechanisms causing cryptorchidism in rodents. In humans, prenatal exposure to potent estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) has been associated with increased risk of cryptorchidism. In addition, epidemiological studies have suggested that exposure to pesticides may also be associated with cryptorchidism. Some case-control studies analyzing environmental chemical levels in maternal breast milk samples have reported associations between cryptorchidism and chemical levels. Furthermore, it has been suggested that exposure levels of some chemicals may be associated with infant reproductive hormone levels.

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