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Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 341–357 | Cite as

Environmental endocrine disruptors: Effects on the human male reproductive system

  • M. F. Sweeney
  • N. Hasan
  • A. M. Soto
  • C. SonnenscheinEmail author
Article

Abstract

Incidences of altered development and neoplasia of male reproductive organs have increased during the last 50 years, as shown by epidemiological data. These data are associated with the increased presence of environmental chemicals, specifically “endocrine disruptors,” that interfere with normal hormonal action. Much research has gone into testing the effects of specific endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on the development of male reproductive organs and endocrine-related cancers in both in vitro and in vivo models. Efforts have been made to bridge the accruing laboratory findings with the epidemiological data to draw conclusions regarding the relationship between EDCs, altered development and carcinogenesis. The ability of EDCs to predispose target fetal and adult tissues to neoplastic transformation is best explained under the framework of the tissue organization field theory of carcinogenesis (TOFT), which posits that carcinogenesis is development gone awry. Here, we focus on the available evidence, from both empirical and epidemiological studies, regarding the effects of EDCs on male reproductive development and carcinogenesis of endocrine target tissues. We also critique current research methodology utilized in the investigation of EDCs effects and outline what could possibly be done to address these obstacles moving forward.

Keywords

Endocrine disruption Developmental origins of adult disease Carcinogenesis Male reproduction Prostate cancer Testicular cancer Male breast cancer Tissue organization field theory 

Abbreviations

AGD

Anogenital distance

AR

Androgen receptor

BPA

Bisphenol A

BPH

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

CIS

Carcinoma in situ

DBP

Dibutyl phthalate

DCE

T-1,2-dichloroethylene

DDT

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane

DEHP

Diethylhexyl phthalate

DES

Diethylstilbestrol

EDC

Endocrine disrupting chemical

ER

Estrogen receptor

INSL3

Insulin-like growth factor 3

MBC

Male breast cancer

MEHP

Mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

MG

Mammary gland

miR

Micro-RNA

NMDR

Non-monotonic dose response

PC

Prostate cancer

PCB

Polychlorinated biphenyls

PCE

Tetrachloroethylene

PGC

Primordial germ cells

SMT

Somatic mutation theory of carcinogenesis

TC

Testicular cancer

TCDD

2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin

TCE

Trichloroethylene

TDS

Testicular dysgenesis syndrome

TGCT

Testicular germ cell tumors

TOFT

Tissue organization field theory of carcinogenesis

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Award Number R01ES08314 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We are grateful to Lucia Speroni and Cheryl Schaeberle for their critical reading of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. F. Sweeney
    • 1
  • N. Hasan
    • 2
  • A. M. Soto
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • C. Sonnenschein
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Program in Genetics, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical SciencesTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Program in Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical SciencesTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Integrative Physiology & PathobiologyTufts UniversityBostonUSA

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