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.
M Axelstad, U Hass, M Scholze, S Christiansen, A Kortenkamp, and J Boberg
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shane M Regnier, Andrew G Kirkley, Daniel Ruiz, Wakanene Kamau, Qian Wu, Kurunthachalam Kannan, and Robert M Sargis
Emerging evidence implicates environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes; however, the interactions between EDCs and traditional risk factors in disease pathogenesis remain incompletely characterized. The present study interrogates the interaction of the EDC tolylfluanid (TF) and traditional dietary stressors in the promotion of metabolic dysfunction. Eight-week-old male C57BL/6 mice were fed a high-fat, high-sucrose diet (HFHSD) or a high-sucrose diet (HSD), with or without TF supplementation at 100 μg/g, for 12 weeks. Food intake, body weight and visceral adiposity were quantified. Glucose homeostasis was interrogated by intraperitoneal glucose and insulin tolerance tests at 9 and 10 weeks of exposure, respectively. After 12 weeks of dietary exposure, metabolic cage analyses were performed to interrogate nutrient handling and energy expenditure. In the background of an HFHSD, TF promoted glucose intolerance; however, weight gain and insulin sensitivity were unchanged, and visceral adiposity was reduced. In the background of an HSD, TF increased visceral adiposity; however, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity were unchanged, while weight gain was reduced. Thus, these analyses reveal that the metabolic perturbations induced by dietary exposure to TF, including the directionality of alterations in body weight gain, visceral adiposity and glucose homeostasis, are influenced by dietary macronutrient composition, suggesting that populations may exhibit distinct metabolic risks based on their unique dietary characteristics.
Angelica Amorim Amato, Hailey Brit Wheeler, and Bruce Blumberg
Obesity is now a worldwide pandemic. The usual explanation given for the prevalence of obesity is that it results from consumption of a calorie dense diet coupled with physical inactivity. However, this model inadequately explains rising obesity in adults and in children over the past few decades, indicating that other factors must be important contributors. An endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) is an exogenous chemical, or mixture that interferes with any aspect of hormone action. EDCs have become pervasive in our environment, allowing humans to be exposed daily through ingestion, inhalation, and direct dermal contact. Exposure to EDCs has been causally linked with obesity in model organisms and associated with obesity occurrence in humans. Obesogens promote adipogenesis and obesity, in vivo, by a variety of mechanisms. The environmental obesogen model holds that exposure to obesogens elicits a predisposition to obesity and that such exposures may be an important yet overlooked factor in the obesity pandemic. Effects produced by EDCs and obesogen exposure may be passed to subsequent, unexposed generations. This “generational toxicology” is not currently factored into risk assessment by regulators but may be another important factor in the obesity pandemic as well as in the worldwide increases in the incidence of noncommunicable diseases that plague populations everywhere. This review addresses the current evidence on how obesogens affect body mass, discusses long-known chemicals that have been more recently identified as obesogens, and how the accumulated knowledge can help identify EDCs hazards.
M Krause, H Frederiksen, K Sundberg, F S Jørgensen, L N Jensen, P Nørgaard, C Jørgensen, P Ertberg, J H Petersen, U Feldt-Rasmussen, A Juul, K T Drzewiecki, N E Skakkebaek, and A M Andersson
Several chemical UV filters/absorbers ('UV filters' hereafter) have endocrine-disrupting properties in vitro and in vivo. Exposure to these chemicals, especially during prenatal development, is of concern.
To examine maternal exposure to UV filters, associations with maternal thyroid hormone, with growth factor concentrations as well as to birth outcomes.
Prospective study of 183 pregnant women with 2nd trimester serum and urine samples available. Maternal concentrations of the chemical UV filters benzophenone-1 (BP-1) and benzophenone-3 (BP-3) in urine and 4-hydroxy-benzophenone (4-HBP) in serum were measured by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS). The relationships between 2nd trimester maternal concentrations of the three chemical UV filters and maternal serum concentrations of thyroid hormones and growth factors, as well as birth outcomes (weight, height, and head and abdominal circumferences) were examined.
Positive associations between maternal serum concentrations of 4-HBP and triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and its binding protein IGFBP3 were observed in mothers carrying male fetuses. Male infants of mothers in the middle 4-HBP exposure group had statistically significantly lower weight and shorter head and abdominal circumferences at birth compared to the low exposure group.
Widespread exposure of pregnant women to chemical UV filters and the possible impact on maternal thyroid hormones and growth factors, and on fetal growth, calls for further studies on possible long-term consequences of the exposure to UV filters on fetal development and children’s health.
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.