Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Endocrine disruptors impair human sperm function

13.05.2014

Ultraviolet filters, preservatives, and plasticizers may be responsible for fertility problems

A plethora of endocrine-disrupting chemicals interfere with human sperm function in a way that may have a negative impact on fertilization. These are the findings of a German - Danish team of researchers from the Center of Advanced European Studies and Research in Bonn, Germany, and the University Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark. The work, which is published in EMBO reports, suggests that endocrine disruptors may contribute to widespread fertility problems in the Western world in a way that hitherto has not been recognized.


Chemical fences: some substances in our everyday life may hamper penetration into the protective coat of the egg cell.

© EMBO Reports, 2014

Endocrine disruptors are present in food, textiles, drugs, household, and personal-care products such as plastic bottles, toys, and cosmetics. Proving the deleterious effects of endocrine disruptors on human beings has been difficult due to a lack of suitable experimental systems.

The European Commission is currently reviewing its policy on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Last year, their plans caused a debate between endocrinologists and a group of toxicologists over how to regulate these chemicals. “Our study provides scientific evidence to assist forming international rules and practices,” said the leader of the study, Timo Strünker, from the Center of Advanced European Studies and Research in Bonn, Germany. 

“For the first time, we have shown a direct link between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals from industrial products and adverse effects on human sperm function,’’ said Niels E. Skakkebaek,  professor and leader of the Danish team.

Hundreds to thousands of chemicals can be rapidly tested for their potential to interfere with human sperm function using the bioassay developed by the researchers. In this initial study, about one hundred chemicals were tested. Around one third, including ultraviolet (UV) filters like 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) used in some sunscreens, the anti-bacterial agent Triclosan used in toothpaste, and di-n-butylphthalate (DnBP), showed adverse actions.

The scientists looked at the impact of these chemicals on the CatSper ion channel, a calcium channel controlling sperm motility. They showed that endocrine disruptors – applied at concentrations measured in body fluids – directly open CatSper and, thereby, increase calcium levels in sperm, change their swimming behaviour, and trigger the release of digestive enzymes that help sperm to break through the egg coat. Moreover, endocrine disruptors render sperm less sensitive for progesterone and prostaglandins – two important hormones released by cells surrounding the egg. Finally, the authors noted that in low-dose mixtures, the chemicals cooperate to elevate calcium levels in sperm.

Altogether, the study indicates that endocrine disruptors might disturb the precisely coordinated sequence of events underlying fertilization in several ways: the chemicals might evoke changes in swimming behaviour at the wrong time and wrong place, hinder navigation of sperm towards the egg, and hamper penetration into the protective egg coat.

Contact

Stefan Hartmann

Research Center caesar (center of advanced european studies and research), Bonn

Phone: +49 228 9656-292
Fax: +49 228 9656-9292

 

Timo Strünker

Research Center caesar (center of advanced european studies and research), Bonn

Phone: +49 228 9656-162
Fax: +49 228 9656-9162

 

Original publication

 
Schiffer, C., Müller, A., Egeberg, D. L., Alvarez, L., Brenker, C., Rehfeld, A., Frederiksen, H., Wäschle, B., Kaupp, U. B., Balbach, M., Wachten, D., Skakkebaek, N. E., Almstrup, K. & Strünker, T.
Directed action of endocrine disrupting chemicals on human sperm
EMBO Reports DOI 10.1002/embr.201438869 

Stefan Hartmann | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Further reports about: Endocrine adverse behaviour chemicals coat effects fertilization sperm swimming

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht UNC Team uses cellular bubbles to deliver Parkinson's meds directly to brain
05.05.2015 | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

nachricht Receptor provides a surprise
04.05.2015 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The random raman laser: A new light source for the microcosmos

Texas A&M University researchers demonstrate how a narrow-band strobe light source for speckle-free imaging has the potential to reveal microscopic forms of life

In modern microscope imaging techniques, lasers are used as light sources because they can deliver fast pulsed and extremely high-intensity radiation to a...

Im Focus: Pulsar with widest orbit ever detected

Discovered by high school research team

A team of highly determined high school students discovered a never-before-seen pulsar by painstakingly analyzing data from the National Science Foundation's...

Im Focus: Erosion, landslides and monsoon across the Himalaya

Scientists from Nepal, Switzerland and Germany was now able to show how erosion processes caused by the monsoon are mirrored in the sediment load of a river crossing the Himalaya.

In these days, it was again tragically demonstrated that the Himalayas are one of the most active geodynamic regions of the world. Landslides belong to the...

Im Focus: Through the galaxy by taxi - The Dream Chaser Space Utility Vehicle

A world-class prime systems integrator and electronic systems provider known for its rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is currently developing a new space transportation system called the Dream Chaser.

The ultimate aim is to construct a multi-mission-capable space utility vehicle, while accelerating the overall development process for this critical capability...

Im Focus: High-tech textiles – more than just clothes

Today, textiles are used for more than just clothes or bags – they are high tech materials for high-tech applications. High-tech textiles must fulfill a number of functions and meet many requirements. That is why the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC dedicated some major developing work to this most intriguing research area. The result can now be seen at Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt from 4 to 7 May. On display will be novel textile-integrated sensors, a unique multifunctional coating system for textiles and fibers, and textile processing of glass, carbon, and ceramics fibers to fiber preforms.

Thin materials and new kinds of sensors now make it possible to integrate silicone elastomer sensors in textiles. They are suitable for applications in medical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Green Summit 2015: the summit of the essential

05.05.2015 | Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

From brittle to plastic in 1 breath

05.05.2015 | Materials Sciences

Ocean currents disturb methane-eating bacteria

05.05.2015 | Earth Sciences

Slowdown after Ice Age sounds a warning for Great Barrier Reef's future

05.05.2015 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>