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Levels of dioxin-like PCBs in low-volume serum samples of male patients attending fertility clinics


An accurate and easy method for the extraction, cleanup, and HRGC-HRMS analysis of dioxin-like PCBs (DL-PCBs) in low-volume serum samples (1 mL) was developed. Serum samples were extracted several times using n-hexane and purified by acid washing. Recovery rates of labeled congeners ranged from 70 to 110 % and the limits of detection were below 1 pg/g on lipid basis. Although human studies are limited and contradictory, several studies have shown that DL-PCBs can have adverse effects on the male reproductive system. In this way, the present method was applied to 21 serum samples of male patients attending fertility clinics. The total levels obtained for the patients ranged from 6.90 to 84.1 pg WHO-TEQ/g lipid, with a mean value of 20.3 pg WHO-TEQ/g lipid. The predominant PCBs (the sum of PCB 118, 156, and 105) contributed 67 % to the mean concentration of total DL-PCBs in the samples analyzed.

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Support for this work was provided by the CTQ2013-41006-R project from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Spain), the PROMETEOII/2014/007 project from the Valencian Community Government (Spain), and the Chair of Human Fertility of the University of Alicante (Spain).

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Correspondence to Julia Moltó.

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Each patient provided an informed consent after receiving a detailed explanation of the study and potential consequences and signed an informed consent form.

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Responsible editor: Hongwen Sun

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Moltó, J., Paul, R., Ortuño, N. et al. Levels of dioxin-like PCBs in low-volume serum samples of male patients attending fertility clinics. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 3463–3468 (2016).

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  • Human serum
  • Male infertility
  • DL-PCBs
  • Pollutants
  • Analytical method