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Theriogenology. 2012 Dec;78(9):1887-900. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2012.06.011. Epub 2012 Aug 25.

Endocrine disruptors and female fertility: focus on (bovine) ovarian follicular physiology.

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  • 1Gamete Research Center, Laboratory for Veterinary Physiology and Biochemistry, Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium.


Throughout the previous century, the production, use and, as a result, presence of chemicals in the environment increased enormously. Consequently, humans and animals are exposed to a wide variety of chemical substances of which some possess the ability to disrupt the endocrine system in the body, thereby denominated as "endocrine disrupting chemicals" (EDCs) or "endocrine disruptors". Because the reproductive system is a target organ for endocrine disruption, EDCs are postulated as one of the possible causes of human subfertility. Within the reproductive system, the ovarian follicle can be considered as an extremely fragile microenvironment where interactions between the oocyte and its surrounding somatic cells are essential to generate a fully competent oocyte. In this review, we explore how EDCs can interfere with the well-balanced conditions in the ovarian follicle. In addition, we highlight the bovine ovarian follicle as an alternative in vitro model for EDC and broader toxicology research.

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