BACKGROUND: Many endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), for instance phthalates and benzophenones, are associated with adverse fertility outcomes and semen quality parameters.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if concentrations of selected phthalate metabolites and benzophenones measured in follicular fluid are associated with fertility outcomes (i.e., reproductive hormones, antral follicle count, detected heartbeat at gestational week 7, and live birth) and, in a supplementary study, if measured concentrations of chemicals in follicular fluid can exert biological effects on human spermatozoa.

METHODS: Overall, 111 couples from a fertility clinic in Denmark contributed with 155 follicular fluid samples. Concentrations of 43 metabolites from 19 phthalates and phthalate substitutes and six benzophenones were measured in follicular fluid using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Multiple linear and logistic regression with an applied generalized estimating equation model allowing more than one measurement per woman assessed the association between follicular EDC levels and fertility outcomes. The assessment of biological effects of individual and mixtures of EDCs on human spermatozoa was conducted through a human sperm cell based Ca2+-fluorimetric assay.

RESULTS: Benzophenone-3 (BP-3) and seven metabolites of five phthalates were detectable in follicular fluid. Women with metabolites of dibutyl phthalate isomers in the highest tertiles had lower antral follicle count (MiBP: β = -5.35 [95 % CI: -9.06; -2.00], MnBP: β = -5.25 [95 % CI: -9.00; -2.00]) and lower odds for detecting a heartbeat at gestational week 7 (MiBP: OR = 0.35 [95 % CI: 0.14; 0.91], MnBP: OR = 0.39 [95 % CI: 0.13; 1.15]). Mixtures of the measured concentrations of BP-3 and the seven phthalate metabolites induced a small significant increase in the intracellular calcium ion concentration in human spermatozoa from healthy donors (n = 3).

DISCUSSION: Phthalate metabolites and BP-3 were detectable in follicular fluid and high concentrations of some phthalate metabolites were linked with lower chance of successful fertility treatment outcomes. Chemical mixture concentrations in follicular fluid induced a calcium response in human spermatozoa highlighting possible biological effects at physiologically relevant concentrations.

TidsskriftEnvironment International
Sider (fra-til)108383
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2024


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