Spermatogenic capacity in fertile men with elevated exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls

Endocrine disrupting industrial chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are suspected to adversely affect male reproductive functions. The Faroe Islands community exhibits an unusually wide range of exposures to dietary contaminants, and in this setting the authors examined the possible association between PCB exposure and semen quality and reproductive hormones in fertile Faroese men. Participants in this cross-sectional study include 266 proven fertile men residing in the Faroe Islands. PCB levels and hormone profiles were measured in serum samples taken at the clinical examination that included semen quality parameters. The results showed a significant positive association between serum-PCB and the testosterone/oestradiol ratio (p=0.04). In the unadjusted analyses, elevated PCB exposure was associated with increased serum concentrations of SHBG (p=0.01) and FSH (p=0.05). No association was found between the serum PCB concentration and the semen quality variables. In this population of highly exposed fertile men, the current serum-PCB concentration was associated with higher androgen/oestrogen ratio. The authors concluded that further studies are needed to establish the findings and further document PCB-associated hormonal effects, any time windows of increased susceptibility, and the role of PCB in sub-fecundity.

Authors: Petersen MS, Halling J, Weihe P, Jensen TK, Grandjean P, Nielsen F, Jørgensen N. ;Full Source: Environmental Research. 2015 Apr;138:345-51. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.02.030. Epub 2015 Mar 10. ;