The Relationship Between Environmental Exposure to Phthalates and Computer-Aided Sperm Analysis Motion Parameters

Authors

  • Susan M. Duty,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Occupational Health Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Simmons College, School for Health Studies, Nursing Programs, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Antonia M. Calafat,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Occupational Health Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Manori J. Silva,

    1. National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • John W. Brock,

    1. National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Louise Ryan,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Department of Biostatistical Science, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Zuying Chen,

    1. Vincent Memorial Obstetrics and Gynecology Service Andrology Laboratory and In Vitro Fertilization Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • James Overstreet,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Reproductive Biology and Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, California.
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  • Russ Hauser

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Health, Occupational Health Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Vincent Memorial Obstetrics and Gynecology Service Andrology Laboratory and In Vitro Fertilization Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
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Department of Environmental Health, Occupational Health Program, Building 1, Room 1405, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: The general population is exposed to phthalates through consumer products, diet, and medical devices. The present study explored whether phthalates, reproductive toxins in laboratory animals, were associated with altered sperm movement characteristics in men. Two-hundred twenty subjects provided a semen sample for computer-aided sperm analysis (CASA) and a urine sample for measurement of phthalate monoesters, monoethyl (MEP), monobenzyl (MBzP), mono-n-butyl (MBP), mono-2-ethylhexyl (MEHP), and monomethyl (MMP). Three CASA parameters, straight-line velocity (VSL), curvilinear velocity (VCL), and linearity (LIN), were used as measures of sperm progression, sperm vigor, and swimming pattern, respectively. There were suggestive dose-response relationships (shown as the predicted change in mean sperm motion parameter for the second and third tertiles compared with the first tertile; P value for trend) for MBzP with VSL (−2.36 μm/s, −2.81 μm/s; P = .09) and VCL (−1.67 μm/s, −2.45 μm/s; P = .4). There were suggestive negative associations between MBP and VSL (−3.07 μm/s, −2.87 μm/s; P = .08) and VCL (−3.25 μm/s, −3.46 μm/s; P = .2), and between MEHP with VSL (−1.09 μm/s, −2.73 μm/s; P = .1) and VCL (−0.29 μm/s, −2.93 μm/s; P = .3). In contrast to the other phthalates, MEP was positively associated with VSL and VCL but negatively associated with LIN. No consistent relationship was found for MMP and any sperm motion parameter. Although we did not find statistically significant associations, trends between CASA parameters, sperm velocity, and forward progression, and increased urinary levels of MBP, MBzP, and MEHP warrant further follow-up.

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