It has been hypothesized that the rise in male reproductive disorders over recent decades may at least be partially attributable to environmental factors, including chemical exposures, but observed associations with single chemicals were rather weak. The aim of this case–control study was to explore the relationship between exposure to mixtures of (anti-)androgenic chemicals during pregnancy and the risk of cryptorchidism and/or hypospadias in offspring, using the total effective xenobiotic burden of anti-androgens (TEXB-AA) as a biomarker. A subsample of 29 cases (16 of cryptorchidism, 12 of hypospadias, and one of both disorders) and 60 healthy controls was nested in a cohort of male newborns recruited between October 2000 and July 2002. The (anti-)androgenic activity of placenta samples collected at delivery was assessed using TEXB-AA biomarker, combined with a bioassay-directed fractionation protocol that separated endogenous hormones from most (anti-)androgenic chemicals by normal-phase HPLC. The bioassay measures the androgen-induced luciferase activity and the inhibition of this pathway by (anti-)androgens. First, we collected 27 HPLC fractions in each placenta extract, which were all tested in the bioassay. The multivariable statistical analyses indicated a statistically significant positive dose–response association between the potent anti-androgenic activity of the HPLC fraction collected during minutes 1–2 (F2) and the risk of malformations (odds ratio: 2.33, 95% CI: 1.04–5.23). This study represents a novel approach for the estimation of combined effects of the total anti-androgenic load and the associations suggest an effect of environmental pollutants on the development of fetal reproductive tract.
Arrebola, J. P., Molina-Molina, J. M., Fernandez, M. F., Saenz, J. M., Amaya, E., Indiveri, P., Hill, E. M., Scholze, M., Orton, F., Kortenkamp, A., & Olea, N. (2015). A novel biomarker for anti-androgenic activity in placenta reveals risks of urogenital malformations. Reproduction, 149(6), 605-613. https://doi.org/10.1530/REP-14-0525