Male Reproductive Impacts

Anway et al., 2005

Anway, Matthew D., Cupp, Andrea S., Uzumcu, Mehmet, and Skinner, Michael K., “Epigenetic Transgenerational Actions of Endocrine Disruptors and Male Fertility,”  Science, 2005, 308:5727,  DOI: 10.1126/SCIENCE.1108190.


Transgenerational effects of environmental toxins require either a chromosomal or epigenetic alteration in the germ line. Transient exposure of a gestating female rat during the period of gonadal sex determination to the endocrine disruptors vinclozolin (an antiandrogenic compound) or methoxychlor (an estrogenic compound) induced an adult phenotype in the F1 generation of decreased spermatogenic capacity (cell number and viability) and increased incidence of male infertility. These effects were transferred through the male germ line to nearly all males of all subsequent generations examined (that is, F1 to F4). The effects on reproduction correlate with altered DNA methylation patterns in the germ line. The ability of an environmental factor (for example, endocrine disruptor) to reprogram the germ line and to promote a transgenerational disease state has significant implications for evolutionary biology and disease etiology.  FULL TEXT

Clair et al., 2012

Clair E, Mesnage R, Travert C, Séralini GÉ, “A glyphosate-based herbicide induces necrosis and apoptosis in mature rat testicular cells in vitro, and testosterone decrease at lower levels,” Toxicology In Vitro, 2012, 26:2, doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2011.12.009.

ABSTRACT: The major herbicide used worldwide, Roundup, is a glyphosate-based pesticide with adjuvants. Glyphosate, its active ingredient in plants and its main metabolite (AMPA) are among the first contaminants of surface waters. Roundup is being used increasingly in particular on genetically modified plants grown for food and feed that contain its residues. Here we tested glyphosate and its formulation on mature rat fresh testicular cells from 1 to 10000ppm, thus from the range in some human urine and in environment to agricultural levels. We show that from 1 to 48h of Roundup exposure Leydig cells are damaged. Within 24-48h this formulation is also toxic on the other cells, mainly by necrosis, by contrast to glyphosate alone which is essentially toxic on Sertoli cells. Later, it also induces apoptosis at higher doses in germ cells and in Sertoli/germ cells co-cultures. At lower non toxic concentrations of Roundup and glyphosate (1ppm), the main endocrine disruption is a testosterone decrease by 35%. The pesticide has thus an endocrine impact at very low environmental doses, but only a high contamination appears to provoke an acute rat testicular toxicity. This does not anticipate the chronic toxicity which is insufficiently tested, and only with glyphosate in regulatory tests.

Colborn and Carroll, 2007

Colborn, Theo, Lynn Carroll,  “Pesticides, Sexual Development, Reproduction,and Fertility: Current Perspective and Future Direction,” Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 2007, 13:5.

ABSTRACT: Improvements in chemical analytical technology and non-invasive sampling protocols have made it easier to detect pesticides and their metabolites at very low concentrations in human tissues. Monitoring has revealed that pesticides penetrate both maternal and paternal reproductive tissues and organs, thus providing a pathway for initiating harm to their offspring starting before fertilization throughout gestation and lactation. This article explores the literature that addresses the parental pathway of exposure to pesticides. We use DDT/DDE as a model for chemicals that oftentimes upon exposure have no apparent, immediate health impacts, or cause no obvious birth defects, and are seldom linked with cancer. Their health effects are overlooked because they are invisible and not life threatening—but might have significant health, social, and economic impacts at the individual and population levels. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the necessity to develop new approaches for determining the safety of pesticides and the need for innovative regulatory policy to protect human and environmental health.

Crews et al., 2007

David Crews, Andrea C. Gore, Timothy S. Hsu, Nygerma L. Dangleben, Michael Spinetta, Timothy Schallert, Matthew D. Anway, and Michael K. Skinner, “Transgenerational epigenetic imprints on mate preference,” PNAS, 2007, 104:14, DOI: 10.1073/PNAS.0610410104.


Environmental contamination by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) can have epigenetic effects (by DNA methylation) on the germ line and promote disease across subsequent generations. In natural populations, both sexes may encounter affected as well as unaffected individuals during the breeding season, and any diminution in attractiveness could compromise reproductive success. Here we examine mate preference in male and female rats whose progenitors had been treated with the antiandrogenic fungicide vinclozolin. This effect is sex-specific, and we demonstrate that females three generations removed from the exposure discriminate and prefer males who do not have a history of exposure, whereas similarly epigenetically imprinted males do not exhibit such a preference. The observations suggest that the consequences of EDCs are not just transgenerational but can be ‘‘transpopulational’’, because in many mammalian species, males are the dispersing sex. This result indicates that epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of EDC action represents an unappreciated force in sexual selection. Our observations provide direct experimental evidence for a role of epigenetics as a determinant factor in evolution.  FULL TEXT

English et al., 2012

René Glynnis English, Melissa Perry, Mary M. Lee, Elaine Hoffman, Steven Delport, Mohamed Aqiel Dalvie, “Farm residence and reproductive health among boys in rural South Africa,” Environment International, 2012, 47, DOI: 10.1016/J.Envint.2012.06.006.


Few studies have investigated reproductive health effects of contemporary agricultural pesticides in boys. To determine the association between pesticide exposure and reproductive health of boys. We conducted a cross-sectional study in rural South Africa of boys living on and off farms. The study included a questionnaire (demographics, general and reproductive health, phyto-estrogen intake, residential history, pesticide exposures, exposures during pregnancy); and a physical examination that included sexual maturity development ratings; testicular volume; height, weight, body mass index; and sex hormone concentrations. Among the 269 boys recruited into the study, 177 (65.8%) were categorized as farm (high pesticide exposures) and 98 (34.2%) as non-farm residents (lower pesticide exposures). Median ages of the two groups were 11.3 vs 12.0 years, respectively (p<0.05). After controlling for confounders that included socioeconomic status, farm boys were shorter (regression coefficient (RC)=-3.42 cm; 95% confidence interval (CI): -6.38 to -0.45 cm) and weighed less (RC=-2.26 kg; CI: -4.44 to -0.75 kg). The farm boys also had lower serum lutenizing hormone (RC=-0.28 IU/L; CI: -0.48 to -0.08 IU/L), but higher serum oestradiol (RC=8.07 pmol/L; CI: 2.34-13.81 pmol/L) and follicle stimulating hormone (RC=0.63 IU/L; CI: 0.19-1.08 U/L). Our study provides evidence that farm residence is associated with adverse growth and reproductive health of pubertal boys which may be due to environmental exposures to hormonally active contemporary agricultural pesticides.   FULL TEXT

Garry et al., 2003

Garry VF, Holland SE, Erickson LL, Burroughs BL, “Male reproductive hormones and thyroid function in pesticide applicators in the Red River Valley of Minnesota,” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health – Part A, 2003, 66:11.

ABSTRACT: In the present effort, 144 pesticide applicators and 49 urban control subjects who reported no chronic disease were studied. Applicators provided records of the season’s pesticides used by product, volumes, dates, and methods of application. Blood specimens for examination of hormone levels were obtained in summer and fall. In the herbicide-only applicator group, significant increases in testosterone levels in fall compared to summer and also elevated levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in the fall were noted. With respect to fungicide use, in an earlier cross-sectional epidemiologic study, data demonstrated that historic fungicide use was associated with a significant alteration of the sex ratio of children borne to applicators. As before, among current study subjects it was noted that historic fungicide use was associated with increased numbers of girls being born. Lower mean total testosterone concentrations by quartile were also correlated with increased numbers of live-born female infants. A downward summer to fall seasonal shift in thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations occurred among applicators but not among controls. Farmers who had aerial application of fungicides to their land in the current season showed a significant shift in TSH values (from 1.75 to 1.11 mU/L). Subclinical hypothyroidism was noted in 5/144 applicators (TSH values >4.5 mU/L), but not in urban control subjects. Based on current and past studies, it was concluded that, in addition to pesticide exposure, individual susceptibility and perhaps economic factors may play a supporting role in the reported results.

Manfo et al., 2012

Manfo FP, Moundipa PF, Déchaud H, Tchana AN, Nantia EA, Zabot MT, Pugeat M, “Effect of agropesticides use on male reproductive function: a study on farmers in Djutitsa (Cameroon),” Environmental Toxicology, 2012, 27:7, DOI: 10.1002/tox.20656.

ABSTRACT:  This study aimed at investigating the effect of agropesticides on male reproductive function in farmers in Djutitsa (West Cameroon). To this end, 47 farmers in Djutitsa were asked questions on their health status and pesticide use in agriculture. Thereafter, their blood samples were collected for assessment of sex hormones including serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), androstenedione, testosterone, as well as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Their serum triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) levels were also measured. Thirty seven men not exposed to agropesticides were recruited as control group. Fifty six pesticides containing 25 active substances were currently used by farmers enrolled in our study, and most of their symptoms were related to spread/use of these chemicals. Compared to the control group, there was no significant difference in FSH, LH, SHBG, estradiol, and thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) levels. Farmers had significantly lower serum testosterone (20.93 ± 1.03 nM vs. 24.32 ± 1.32 nM; P < 0.05) and higher androstenedione level (3.83 ± 0.20 nM vs. 2.80 ± 0.15 nM; P < 0.001). Their serum free testosterone as well as bioavailable testosterone were unchanged, while estradiol/testosterone and androstenedione/testosterone ratios were significantly increased (0.45 ± 0.03% vs. 0.33 ± 0.02%; P < 0.01 and 12.26 ± 3.64 vs 19.31 ± 6.82; P < 0.001, respectively). Our results suggest that male farmers of Djutitsa (West Cameroon) are exposed to agropesticides due to improper protective tool, and this exposure may impair their reproductive function through inhibition of testosterone synthesis; probably by inhibition of testicular 17β- hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17HSD3) and induction of aromatase (CYP19).

Manikkam et al., 2012

Manikkam M, Tracey R, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Skinner MK, “Pesticide and insect repellent mixture (permethrin and DEET) induces epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and sperm epimutations,” Reproductive Toxicology, 2012,  34:4,  DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2012.08.010.

ABSTRACT: Environmental compounds are known to promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease. The current study was designed to determine if a “pesticide mixture” (pesticide permethrin and insect repellent N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, DEET) promotes epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and associated DNA methylation epimutations in sperm. Gestating F0 generation female rats were exposed during fetal gonadal sex determination and the incidence of disease evaluated in F1 and F3 generations. There were significant increases in the incidence of total diseases in animals from pesticide lineage F1 and F3 generation animals. Pubertal abnormalities, testis disease, and ovarian disease (primordial follicle loss and polycystic ovarian disease) were increased in F3 generation animals. Analysis of the pesticide lineage F3 generation sperm epigenome identified 363 differential DNA methylation regions (DMR) termed epimutations. Observations demonstrate that a pesticide mixture (permethrin and DEET) can promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease and potential sperm epigenetic biomarkers for ancestral environmental exposures.  FULL TEXT

Manikkam et al., 2012b

Manikkam M, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Tracey R, Haque MM, Skinner MK, “Transgenerational actions of environmental compounds on reproductive disease and identification of epigenetic biomarkers of ancestral exposures,” PLoS One, 2012, 7:2.
ABSTRACT: Environmental factors during fetal development can induce a permanent epigenetic change in the germ line (sperm) that then transmits epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult-onset disease in the absence of any subsequent exposure. The epigenetic transgenerational actions of various environmental compounds and relevant mixtures were investigated with the use of a pesticide mixture (permethrin and insect repellant DEET), a plastic mixture (bisphenol A and phthalates), dioxin (TCDD) and a hydrocarbon mixture (jet fuel, JP8). After transient exposure of F0 gestating female rats during the period of embryonic gonadal sex determination, the subsequent F1-F3 generations were obtained in the absence of any environmental exposure. The effects on the F1, F2 and F3 generations pubertal onset and gonadal function were assessed. The plastics, dioxin and jet fuel were found to promote early-onset female puberty transgenerationally (F3 generation). Spermatogenic cell apoptosis was affected transgenerationally. Ovarian primordial follicle pool size was significantly decreased with all treatments transgenerationally. Differential DNA methylation of the F3 generation sperm promoter epigenome was examined. Differential DNA methylation regions (DMR) were identified in the sperm of all exposure lineage males and found to be consistent within a specific exposure lineage, but different between the exposures. Several genomic features of the DMR, such as low density CpG content, were identified. Exposure-specific epigenetic biomarkers were identified that may allow for the assessment of ancestral environmental exposures associated with adult onset disease.  FULL TEXT

Omoike et al., 2015

Omoike OE, Lewis RC, Meeker JD, “Association between urinary biomarkers of exposure to organophosphate insecticides and serum reproductive hormones in men from NHANES 1999-2002,” Reproductive Toxicology, 2015, 53, DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2015.04.005.

ABSTRACT: Exposure to organophosphate (OP) insecticides may alter reproductive hormone levels in men and increase the risk for poor reductive health and other adverse health outcomes. However, relevant epidemiology studies in men are limited. We evaluated urinary concentrations of OP metabolites (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol and six dialkyl phosphates) in relation to serum concentrations of testosterone (T) and estradiol among 356 men aged 20-55 years old from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Biomarkers were detected in greater than 50% of the samples, except for diethyldithiophosphate, dimethylphosphate, and dimethyldithiophosphate. In adjusted regression models, we observed a statistically significant inverse relationship between diethyl phosphate (DEP) and T when DEP was modeled as either a continuous or categorical variable. These findings add to the limited evidence that exposure to certain OP insecticides is linked to altered T in men, which may have important implications for male health.  FULL TEXT