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 Discovery points to a new path toward a universal flu vaccine
03.07.2015 | Rockefeller University

nachricht "CCS Telehealth Ostsachsen", Germany's largest telemedicine project, goes online in Dresden
02.07.2015 | Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus Dresden

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: Viaducts with wind turbines, the new renewable energy source

Wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity. So it is confirmed by calculations carried out by a European researchers team, that have taken a viaduct in the Canary Islands as a reference. This concept could be applied in heavily built-up territories or natural areas with new constructions limitations.

The Juncal Viaduct, in Gran Canaria, has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars on this...

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

Im Focus: Thousands of Droplets for Diagnostics

Researchers develop new method enabling DNA molecules to be counted in just 30 minutes

A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...

Im Focus: Bionic eye clinical trial results show long-term safety, efficacy vision-restoring implant

Patients using Argus II experienced significant improvement in visual function and quality of life

The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine: Abstract Submission has been extended to 24 June

16.06.2015 | Event News

MUSE hosting Europe’s largest science communication conference

11.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second

06.07.2015 | Life Sciences

First Comprehensive Analysis of the Woolly Mammoth Genome Completed

06.07.2015 | Life Sciences

Successful: Cement on Top of Carbon Dioxide

06.07.2015 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>