Environmental Exposures on Male and Female Fertility in the Maximum Reproductive Age

A special issue of Toxics (ISSN 2305-6304). This special issue belongs to the section "Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 2161

Special Issue Editors

1. Andrology Unit and Service of Lifestyle Medicine in UroAndrology, Local Health Authority (ASL) Salerno, Coordination Unit of the Network for Environmental and Reproductive Health (EcoFoodFertility Project), “S Francis Hospital”, Oliveto Citra, 84020 Salerno, Italy
2. PhD Program in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy
Interests: andrology; reproductive health; male infertility; environmental health; pollution; lifestyle; diet; epigenetics
Unit of Reproductive Medicine (UMR), 95030 Catania, Italy
Interests: gynaecology; reproductive health; environmental health; female infertility; couple infertility; lifestyle; assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs)
Infertility Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico di Milano, Milano, Italy
Interests: reproduction; endometriosis; endometrium; IVF; embryo
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent decades, in addition to harmful lifestyles, the role of environmental factors in influencing human health, with even transgenerational effects, has become increasingly evident. The widespread contamination of air, water, and soil due to human activities, as well as the more subtle presence of electromagnetic fields, seems to have as an elective target the male and female reproductive systems. The growth rate of couple infertility in the last several decades, and the most evident drop in sperm quality, are the most faithful mirrors of environmental impact on human health. Thus, biomarkers of reproductive health could be exploited as early flags of environmental pressure and enhanced risk of chronic adverse effects on health. The growing interest in the transgenerational effects induced by pollution on gametes shifts the interest in prevention as far as preconception. This approach appears very promising, above all in young people (maximum fertile age: 18–35 years), considering the possibility of reducing noncommunicable diseases in future adults and generations. In this context, the safeguarding of germ cells is a new challenge to reduce the burden of epigenetically transmitted diseases. This Special Issue intends to present the current research on the association between environmental exposure and fertility with a view to safeguarding not only reproductive but general health, in order to collect indications and measures for prevention, resilience, and health risk management. Authors are kindly invited to submit original research papers, reviews, and short communications.

Dr. Luigi Montano
Dr. Antonino Guglielmino
Dr. Paola Viganò
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • pollution
  • endocrine disruptor
  • chemicals
  • electromagnetic fields
  • male fertility
  • female fertility
  • microplastics and nanoplastics
  • epigenetics
  • noncommunicable diseases
  • semen quality
  • ovarian reserve

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 280 KiB  
Article
Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Semen Quality in Healthy Young Men Living in a Contaminated Area
Toxics 2024, 12(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12010006 - 20 Dec 2023
Viewed by 796
Abstract
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are persistent organic pollutants and endocrine disruptors that have been implicated in potential damage to human semen. However, the studies conducted so far provide contrasting results. Our study aimed to investigate the associations between PCB serum and semen levels and [...] Read more.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are persistent organic pollutants and endocrine disruptors that have been implicated in potential damage to human semen. However, the studies conducted so far provide contrasting results. Our study aimed to investigate the associations between PCB serum and semen levels and semen quality in high school and university students living in a highly PCB-polluted area of Italy. Subjects with a normal body mass index who did not make daily use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or medication were selected. All participants provided a fasting blood and a semen sample. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to determine the concentrations of 26 PCB congeners. The concentrations of PCB functional groups and total PCBs were also computed. A total of 143 subjects (median age 20, range 18–22 years) were enrolled. The median total PCB concentrations were 3.85 ng/mL (range 3.43–4.56 ng/mL) and 0.29 ng/mL (range 0.26–0.32 ng/mL) in serum and semen, respectively. The analysis of the associations between sperm PCB concentration and semen parameters showed (a) negative associations between some PCB congeners, functional groups and total PCBs and sperm total motility; (b) negative associations of total PCBs with sperm normal morphology; and (c) no association of PCBs with sperm concentration. Subjects at the highest quartile of semen total PCB concentration had 19% and 23% mean reductions in total motility and normal morphology, respectively, compared to those at the lowest quartile. The analysis of the associations of serum PCB levels with sperm parameters yielded null or mixed (some positive, other negative) results. In conclusion, the present study provides evidence of a negative effect of some PCB congeners and total PCBs in semen on sperm motility and normal morphology. However, the associations between the concentration of serum and semen PCB congeners and functional groups and sperm quality parameters were inconsistent. Full article
15 pages, 5123 KiB  
Article
Early-Life Exposure to the Mycotoxin Fumonisin B1 and Developmental Programming of the Ovary of the Offspring: The Possible Role of Autophagy in Fertility Recovery
Toxics 2023, 11(12), 980; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11120980 - 03 Dec 2023
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Abstract
Mycotoxins are produced by more than one hundred fungi and produce secondary metabolites that contaminate various agricultural commodities, especially rice and corn. Their presence in the food chain is considered a serious problem worldwide. In recent years, a link between exposure to mycotoxins [...] Read more.
Mycotoxins are produced by more than one hundred fungi and produce secondary metabolites that contaminate various agricultural commodities, especially rice and corn. Their presence in the food chain is considered a serious problem worldwide. In recent years, a link between exposure to mycotoxins and impaired fertility has been suggested. Consequently, it has become vital to investigate the interactive effects of these mycotoxins on ovarian function. In this study, we investigated the intergenerational effects of the mycotoxin fumonisin B1 (FB1) on ovarian structure and function. Virgin Wistar albino female rats were separated into control and FB1 treatment groups and examined from day 6 of pregnancy until delivery (20 and 50 mg/kg b.w./day). The obtained female rats of the first (F1) and second generations (F2) were euthanized at 4 weeks of age, and ovary samples were collected. We found that the ovary weight index increased with the high dose of the treatment (50 mg/kg b.w./day) among both F1 and F2, in a manner similar to that observed in polycystic ovary syndrome. As expected, FB1 at a high dose (50 mg/kg b.w.) reduced the number of primordial follicles in F1 and F2, leading to an accelerated age-related decline in reproductive capacity. Moreover, it reduced the fertility rate among the F1 female rats by affecting follicle growth and development, as the number of secondary and tertiary follicles decreased. Histopathological changes were evidenced by the altered structures of most of the growing follicle oocytes, as revealed by a thinning irregular zona pellucida and pyknosis in granulosa cells. These findings are concomitant with steroidogenesis- and folliculogenesis-related gene expression, as evidenced by the decrease in CYP19 activity and estrogen receptor beta (ESR2) gene expression. Additionally, GDF-9 mRNA levels were significantly decreased, and IGF-1 mRNA levels were significantly increased. However, the results from the ovaries of the F2 treatment groups were different and unexpected. While there was no significant variation in CYP19 activity compared to the control, the ESR2 significantly increased, leading to stereological and histopathological changes similar to those of the control, except for some altered follicles. The hallmark histological feature was the appearance of vacuolar structures within the oocyte and between granulosa cell layers. Interestingly, the autophagic marker LC3 was significantly increased in the F2 offspring, whereas this protein was significantly decreased in the F1 offspring. Therefore, we suggest that the promotion of autophagy in the ovaries of the F2 offspring may be considered a recovery mechanism from the effect of prenatal FB1 exposure. Thus, autophagy corrected the effect of FB1 during the early life of the F1 female rats, leading to F2 offspring with ovarian structure and function similar to those of the control. However, the offspring, treated female rats may experience early ovarian aging because their ovarian pool was affected. Full article
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