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J Hazard Mater. 2013 Apr 15;250-251:115-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2013.01.061. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Association of exposure to phenols and idiopathic male infertility.

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State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine, Institute of Toxicology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210029, China.


Widespread human exposure to phenols has been documented recently, and some phenols which are potential endocrine disruptors have demonstrated adverse effects on male reproduction in animal and in vitro studies. However, implications about exposure to phenols and male infertility are scarce in humans. Case-control study of 877 idiopathic infertile men and 713 fertile controls was conducted. Urinary levels of bisphenol A, benzophenone-3, pentachlorophenol, triclosan, 4-tert-octylphenol (4-t-OP), 4-n-octylphenol (4-n-OP) and 4-n-nonylphenol (4-n-NP) and semen parameters were measured. After multivariate adjustment, we found 4-t-OP, 4-n-OP and 4-n-NP exposure was associated with idiopathic male infertility (p-value for trend: <0.0001, 0.014 and 0.001, respectively). Aside from these associations, 4-t-OP and 4-n-NP exposure was also associated with idiopathic male infertility with abnormal semen parameters. Moreover, we observed significant associations between sum alkylphenols (APs) exposure and idiopathic male infertility. There were no relationships between exposure to other phenols and idiopathic male infertility in the present study. Our study provides the first evidence that exposure to APs (4-t-OP, 4-n-OP and 4-n-NP) is associated with idiopathic male infertility.

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