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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2016 Dec;23(23):23339-23348. Epub 2016 Sep 26.

Environmental pollutants: genetic damage and epigenetic changes in male germ cells.

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Institute of Clinical Physiology-CNR, via G.Moruzzi 1, 56124, Pisa, Italy.
Andrology Unit of the "San Francesco d'Assisi" Hospital - ASL Salerno, EcoFoodFertility Project Coordination Unit, via M. Clemente, 84020, Oliveto Citra, SA, Italy.
Institute of Clinical Physiology-CNR, via G.Moruzzi 1, 56124, Pisa, Italy.


About a quarter of the human diseases occurs for exposure to air pollution. The male reproductive system, and especially spermatogenesis, seems to be particularly sensitive. As result, male infertility is increasing in industrial countries becoming a top priority for public health. In addition to psychological distress and economic constraints, poorer semen quality may have trans-generational effects including congenital malformations in the offspring and predispose to later onset adult diseases. Genetic and epigenetic alterations are involved in the failure of spermatogenesis. In this paper, we reviewed the major evidences of the effects of air pollutants on male infertility as well as the role of sperm DNA damage and epigenetic changes in affecting spermatogenesis. A better knowledge on the effects of air contaminants on the molecular mechanisms leading to infertility is of huge importance to help clinicians in identifying the cause of infertility but above all, in defining preventive and therapeutic protocols.


Environmental pollutants; Epigenetics; Genetics; Infertility; Male germ cells; Spermatogenesis

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