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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

Isabel M Abreu, Eva Lau, Bernardo de Sousa Pinto and Davide Carvalho

Previous studies suggested that subclinical hypothyroidism has a detrimental effect on cardiovascular risk factors, and that its effective treatment may have a beneficial impact on overall health. The main purpose of this review and meta-analysis was to assess whether subclinical hypothyroidism treatment is of clinical relevance, based on cardiovascular risk parameters correction. A systemic research of the literature using MEDLINE tool was performed to identify the relevant studies. Only placebo-controlled randomized control trials were included. A quantitative analysis was also performed. This systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials assess the different impact of levothyroxine vs placebo treatment. A significant decrease in serum thyroid-stimulating hormone and total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was obtained with levothyroxine therapy (66, 9 and 14%, respectively) and, although modest, this could be significant in terms of reduction of the incidence of coronary artery disease. Other significant results of lipid parameters were not obtained. This systematic review provides a strong evidence-based data in favour of specific changes and beneficial effects of levothyroxine treatment.

Open access

Catarina I Gonçalves, José M Aragüés, Margarida Bastos, Luísa Barros, Nuno Vicente, Davide Carvalho and Manuel C Lemos


Normosmic congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (nCHH) is a rare disorder characterised by lack of pubertal development and infertility, due to deficient production, secretion or action of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and, unlike Kallmann syndrome, is associated with a normal sense of smell. Mutations in the GNRHR gene cause autosomal recessive nCHH. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of GNRHR mutations in a group of 40 patients with nCHH.


Cross-sectional study of 40 unrelated patients with nCHH.


Patients were screened for mutations in the GNRHR gene by DNA sequencing.


GNRHR mutations were identified in five of 40 patients studied. Four patients had biallelic mutations (including a novel frameshift deletion p.Phe313Metfs*3, in two families) in agreement with autosomal recessive inheritance. One patient had a heterozygous GNRHR mutation associated with a heterozygous PROKR2 mutation, thus suggesting a possible role of synergistic heterozygosity in the pathogenesis of the disorder.


This study further expands the spectrum of known genetic defects associated with nCHH. Although GNRHR mutations are usually biallelic and inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, the presence of a monoallelic mutation in a patient should raise the possibility of a digenic/oligogenic cause of nCHH.