Environmental Impacts on Male Reproductive Development: Lessons from Experimental Models

Anne Jorgensen, Terje Svingen, Harriet Miles, Tarini Chetty, Jan-Bernd Stukenborg, Rod T Mitchell

9 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Male reproductive development in mammals can be divided into a gonadal formation phase followed by a hormone-driven differentiation phase. Failure of these processes may result in Differences in Sex Development (DSD), which may include abnormalities of the male reproductive tract, including cryptorchidism, hypospadias, infertility, and testicular germ cell cancer (TGCC). These disorders are also considered to be part of a testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS) in males. Whilst DSDs are considered to result primarily from genetic abnormalities, the development of TDS disorders is frequently associated with environmental factors.

SUMMARY: In this review, we will discuss the development of the male reproductive system in relation to DSD and TDS. We will also describe the experimental systems, including studies involving animals and human tissues or cells that can be used to investigate the role of environmental factors in inducing male reproductive disorders. We will discuss recent studies investigating the impact of environmental chemicals (e.g., phthalates and bisphenols), lifestyle factors (e.g., smoking) and pharmaceuticals (e.g., analgesics) on foetal testis development. Finally, we will describe the evidence, involving experimental and epidemiologic approaches, for a role of environmental factors in the development of specific male reproductive disorders, including cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and TGCC. Key Messages: Environmental exposures can impact the development and function of the male reproductive system in humans. Epidemiology studies and experimental approaches using human tissues are important to translate findings from animal studies and account for species differences in response to environmental exposures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHormone research in paediatrics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)190-206
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Disorders of Sex Development
  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environment
  • Male Reproduction
  • Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome
  • Testis
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Cryptorchidism/etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammals
  • Animals
  • Hypospadias/etiology
  • Gonadal Dysgenesis/epidemiology


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