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Open access

EDC IMPACT: Reduced sperm counts in rats exposed to human relevant mixtures of endocrine disrupters

M Axelstad, U Hass, M Scholze, S Christiansen, A Kortenkamp, and J Boberg

Human semen quality is declining in many parts of the world, but the causes are ill defined. In rodents, impaired sperm production can be seen with early life exposure to certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, but the effects of combined exposures are not properly investigated. In this study, we examined the effects of early exposure to the painkiller paracetamol and mixtures of human relevant endocrine-disrupting chemicals in rats. One mixture contained four estrogenic compounds; another contained eight anti-androgenic environmental chemicals and a third mixture contained estrogens, anti-androgens and paracetamol. All exposures were administered by oral gavage to time-mated Wistar dams rats (n = 16–20) throughout gestation and lactation. In the postnatal period, testicular histology was affected by the total mixture, and at the end of weaning, male testis weights were significantly increased by paracetamol and the high doses of the total and the anti-androgenic mixture, compared to controls. In all dose groups, epididymal sperm counts were reduced several months after end of exposure, i.e. at 10 months of age. Interestingly, the same pattern of effects was seen for paracetamol as for mixtures with diverse modes of action. Reduced sperm count was seen at a dose level reflecting human therapeutic exposure to paracetamol. Environmental chemical mixtures affected sperm count at the lowest mixture dose indicating an insufficient margin of safety for the most exposed humans. This causes concern for exposure of pregnant women to paracetamol as well as environmental endocrine disrupters.

Open access

Levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals are associated with changes in the peri-pubertal epigenome

Kristian Almstrup, Hanne Frederiksen, Anna-Maria Andersson, and Anders Juul

Puberty marks a transition period, which leads to the attainment of adult sexual maturity. Timing of puberty is a strongly heritable trait. However, large genetic association studies can only explain a fraction of the observed variability and striking secular trends suggest that lifestyle and/or environmental factors are important. Using liquid-chromatography tandem-mass-spectrometry, we measured endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs; triclosan, bisphenol A, benzophenone-3, 2,4-dichlorophenol, 11 metabolites from 5 phthalates) in longitudinal urine samples obtained biannually from peri-pubertal children included in the COPENHAGEN puberty cohort. EDC levels were associated with blood DNA methylation profiles from 31 boys and 20 girls measured both pre- and post-pubertally. We found little evidence of single methylation sites that on their own showed association with urinary excretion levels of EDCs obtained either the same-day or measured as the yearly mean of dichotomized EDC levels. In contrast, methylation of several promoter regions was found to be associated with two or more EDCs, overlap with known gene–chemical interactions, and form a core network with genes known to be important for puberty. Furthermore, children with the highest yearly mean of dichotomized urinary phthalate metabolite levels were associated with higher promoter methylation of the thyroid hormone receptor interactor 6 gene (TRIP6), which again was mirrored by lower circulating TRIP6 protein levels. In general, the mean TRIP6 promoter methylation was mirrored by circulating TRIP6 protein levels. Our results provide a potential molecular mode of action of how exposure to environmental chemicals may modify pubertal development.

Open access

Bisphenol A increases hydrogen peroxide generation by thyrocytes both in vivo and in vitro

Maurício Martins da Silva, Lueni Lopes Felix Xavier, Carlos Frederico Lima Gonçalves, Ana Paula Santos-Silva, Francisca Diana Paiva-Melo, Mariana Lopes de Freitas, Rodrigo Soares Fortunato, Leandro Miranda-Alves, and Andrea Claudia Freitas Ferreira

Bisphenol A (BPA) is the most common monomer in polycarbonate plastics and an endocrine disruptor. Though some effects of BPA on thyroid hormone (TH) synthesis and action have been described, the impact of this compound on thyroid H2O2 generation remains elusive. H2O2 is a reactive oxygen species (ROS), which could have deleterious effect on thyrocytes if in excess. Therefore, herein we aimed at evaluating the effect of BPA exposition both in vivo and in vitro on H2O2 generation in thyrocytes, besides other essential steps for TH synthesis. Female Wistar rats were treated with vehicle (control) or BPA 40 mg/kg BW for 15 days, by gavage. We then evaluated thyroid iodide uptake, mediated by sodium-iodide symporter (NIS), thyroperoxidase (TPO) and dual oxidase (DOUX) activities (H2O2 generation). Hydrogen peroxide generation was increased, while iodide uptake and TPO activity were reduced by BPA exposition. We have also incubated the rat thyroid cell line PCCL3 with 10−9 M BPA and evaluated Nis and Duox mRNA levels, besides H2O2 generation. Similar to that found in vivo, BPA treatment also led to increased H2O2 generation in PCCL3. Nis mRNA levels were reduced and Duox2 mRNA levels were increased in BPA-exposed cells. To evaluate the importance of oxidative stress on BPA-induced Nis reduction, PCCL3 was treated with BPA in association to N-acetylcysteine, an antioxidant, which reversed the effect of BPA on Nis. Our data suggest that BPA increases ROS production in thyrocytes, what could lead to oxidative damage thus possibly predisposing to thyroid disease.

Open access

Association between vitamin D and bisphenol A levels in an elderly Italian population: results from the InCHIANTI study

Maria Luisa Brandi, Stefania Bandinelli, Teresa Iantomasi, Francesca Giusti, Eleonora Talluri, Giovanna Sini, Fabrizio Nannipieri, Santina Battaglia, Riccardo Giusti, Colin Gerard Egan, and Luigi Ferrucci


This study aimed to evaluate the association between the endocrine-disrupting chemical, bisphenol A (BPA) on circulating levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OD)D) and other vitamin D metabolites in an elderly population in Italy.


This was a retrospective analysis of the InCHIANTI Biobank in Italy. The association between vitamin D metabolites namely 1,25(OH)D, 25(OH)D, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and BPA levels were evaluated. Multiple regression models were used to examine the association between predictor variables with 1,25(OH)D or 25(OH)D levels.


Samples from 299 individuals aged 72.8 ± 15.7 years were examined. Mean levels of BPA, 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D were 351.2 ± 511.6 ng/dL, 43.7 ± 16.9 pg/mL and 20.2 ± 12.1 ng/mL, respectively. One hundred eighty individuals (60.2%) were deficient (<20 ng/mL) in 25(OH)D and this population also presented higher BPA levels (527.9 ± 1289.5 ng/dL vs 86.9 ± 116.8 ng/dL, P  < 0.0001). Univariate analysis revealed that BPA levels were negatively correlated with both 1,25(OH)D (r= −0.67, P  < 0.0001) and 25(OH)D (r= −0.69, P  < 0.0001). Multivariate regression revealed that PTH (β: −0.23, 95% CI: −0.34, −0.13, P  < 0.0001) and BPA (β: −0.25, 95% CI: −0.3, −0.19, P  < 0.0001) remained significantly associated with 25(OH)D levels while BPA was also associated with 1,25(OH)D levels (β: −0.19, 95% CI: −0.22, −0.15, P  < 0.0001). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that a BPA concentration of >113 ng/dL was the best cut-off to predict individuals deficient in 25(OH)D (area under the curve: 0.87, 95% CI: 0.82–0.90, P  < 0.0001).


The strong negative association between BPA and vitamin D in this elderly population warrants further investigation, particularly since this population is already at greatest risk of hypovitaminosis and fracture.

Open access

Thyroid-disrupting chemicals and brain development: an update

Bilal B Mughal, Jean-Baptiste Fini, and Barbara A Demeneix

This review covers recent findings on the main categories of thyroid hormone–disrupting chemicals and their effects on brain development. We draw mostly on epidemiological and experimental data published in the last decade. For each chemical class considered, we deal with not only the thyroid hormone–disrupting effects but also briefly mention the main mechanisms by which the same chemicals could modify estrogen and/or androgen signalling, thereby exacerbating adverse effects on endocrine-dependent developmental programmes. Further, we emphasize recent data showing how maternal thyroid hormone signalling during early pregnancy affects not only offspring IQ, but also neurodevelopmental disease risk. These recent findings add to established knowledge on the crucial importance of iodine and thyroid hormone for optimal brain development. We propose that prenatal exposure to mixtures of thyroid hormone–disrupting chemicals provides a plausible biological mechanism contributing to current increases in the incidence of neurodevelopmental disease and IQ loss.

Open access

The impact of endocrine disruptor chemicals on oocyte/embryo and clinical outcomes in IVF

Rosalie Cabry, Philippe Merviel, Aicha Madkour, Elodie Lefranc, Florence Scheffler, Rachel Desailloud, Véronique Bach, and Moncef Benkhalifa

The negative impact of endocrine-disrupting pesticides on human fertility is now a key issue in reproductive health. There are much fewer literature data about the impact of pesticide exposure on women than on men and very few studies of women participating in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) programme. In the present review, we found that (1) various pesticides with an endocrine-disrupting action are associated with poor oocyte maturation and competency, embryonic defects and poor IVF outcomes, and (2) some pesticide compounds are linked to specific causes of female infertility, such as premature ovarian insufficiency, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and endometriosis. IVF participants living in agricultural regions should be informed about the fertility decline, low ongoing pregnancy rates, and elevated risk of miscarriage associated with exposure to high doses of pesticides.

Open access

EDC IMPACT: Molecular effects of developmental FM 550 exposure in Wistar rat placenta and fetal forebrain

Kylie D Rock, Brian Horman, Allison L Phillips, Susan L McRitchie, Scott Watson, Jocelin Deese-Spruill, Dereje Jima, Susan Sumner, Heather M Stapleton, and Heather B Patisaul

Firemaster 550 (FM 550) is a flame retardant (FR) mixture that has become one of the most commonly used FRs in foam-based furniture and baby products. Human exposure to this commercial mixture, composed of brominated and organophosphate components, is widespread. We have repeatedly shown that developmental exposure can lead to sex-specific behavioral effects in rats. Accruing evidence of endocrine disruption and potential neurotoxicity has raised concerns regarding the neurodevelopmental effects of FM 550 exposure, but the specific mechanisms of action remains unclear. Additionally, we observed significant, and in some cases sex-specific, accumulation of FM 550 in placental tissue following gestational exposure. Because the placenta is an important source of hormones and neurotransmitters for the developing brain, it may be a critical target of toxicity to consider in the context of developmental neurotoxicity. Using a mixture of targeted and exploratory approaches, the goal of the present study was to identify possible mechanisms of action in the developing forebrain and placenta. Wistar rat dams were orally exposed to FM 550 (0, 300 or 1000 µg/day) for 10 days during gestation and placenta and fetal forebrain tissue collected for analysis. In placenta, evidence of endocrine, inflammatory and neurotransmitter signaling pathway disruption was identified. Notably, 5-HT turnover was reduced in placental tissue and fetal forebrains indicating that 5-HT signaling between the placenta and the embryonic brain may be disrupted. These findings demonstrate that environmental contaminants, like FM 550, have the potential to impact the developing brain by disrupting normal placental functions.

Open access

The endocrine disruptor DEHP and the ECS: analysis of a possible crosstalk

Jana Ernst, Urszula Grabiec, Kathrin Falk, Faramarz Dehghani, and Kristina Schaedlich

Studies of the last decade associated the environmental contamination by di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) with obesity and endocrine malfunction. DEHP was found to interact with several receptors – among them are receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) with high expression levels in adipose tissue. Furthermore, the correlation for BMI and body fat to the serum endocannabinoid level raises the question if the obesogenic and endocrine-disrupting DEHP effects are mediated via the ECS. We therefore characterized the ECS in a human cell model of adipogenesis using the SGBS preadipocytes to subsequently investigate if DEHP exposure affects the intrinsic ECS. The receptors of the ECS and the endocannabinoid-metabolizing enzymes were upregulated during normal adipogenesis, accompanied by an increasing secretion of the adipokines adiponectin and leptin. DEHP affected the secretion of both adipokines but not the ECS, suggesting DEHP to alter the endocrine function of adipocytes without the involvement of the intrinsic ECS.

Open access

Human infertility: are endocrine disruptors to blame?

André Marques-Pinto and Davide Carvalho

Over recent decades, epidemiological studies have been reporting worrisome trends in the incidence of human infertility rates. Extensive detection of industrial chemicals in human serum, seminal plasma and follicular fluid has led the scientific community to hypothesise that these compounds may disrupt hormonal homoeostasis, leading to a vast array of physiological impairments. Numerous synthetic and natural substances have endocrine-disruptive effects, acting through several mechanisms. The main route of exposure to these chemicals is the ingestion of contaminated food and water. They may disturb intrauterine development, resulting in irreversible effects and may also induce transgenerational effects. This review aims to summarise the major scientific developments on the topic of human infertility associated with exposure to endocrine disruptors (EDs), integrating epidemiological and experimental evidence. Current data suggest that environmental levels of EDs may affect the development and functioning of the reproductive system in both sexes, particularly in foetuses, causing developmental and reproductive disorders, including infertility. EDs may be blamed for the rising incidence of human reproductive disorders. This constitutes a serious public health issue that should not be overlooked. The exposure of pregnant women and infants to EDs is of great concern. Therefore, precautionary avoidance of exposure to EDs is a prudent attitude in order to protect humans and wildlife from permanent harmful effects on fertility.

Open access

Prostate gland as a target organ of thyroid hormones: advances and controversies

Brenda Anguiano, Carlos Montes de Oca, Evangelina Delgado-González, and Carmen Aceves

Thyroid hormones (THs) are involved in the development and function of the male reproductive system, but their effects on the prostate have been poorly studied. This work reviews studies related to the interrelationship between the thyroid and the prostate. The information presented here is based upon bibliographic searches in PubMed using the following search terms: prostate combined with thyroid hormone or triiodothyronine, thyroxine, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or deiodinase. We identified and searched 49 articles directly related to the issue, and discarded studies related to endocrine disruptors. The number of publications has grown in the last 20 years, considering that one of the first studies was published in 1965. This review provides information based on in vitro studies, murine models, and clinical protocols in patients with thyroid disorders. Studies indicate that THs regulate different aspects of growth, metabolism, and prostate pathology, whose global effect depends on total and/or free concentrations of THs in serum, local bioavailability, and the endocrine androgen/thyronine context.