• Open Access

Associations between congenital cryptorchidism in newborn boys and levels of dioxins and PCBs in placenta

Authors


Helena Virtanen, Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Kiinamyllynkatu 10, FI-20520 Turku, Finland. E-mail: helena.virtanen@utu.fi

Summary

In animal studies, exposure to dioxins has been associated with disrupted development of the male reproductive system, including testicular maldescent. Some polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have also dioxin-like effects. In addition, one previous case–control study has reported an association between congenital cryptorchidism and colostrum PCB levels. We performed a case–control study to evaluate whether congenital cryptorchidism in boys was associated with increased levels of dioxins or PCBs in placenta reflecting foetal exposure. In addition, associations between placenta levels of these chemicals and reproductive hormone levels in boys at 3 months were studied. Placentas were collected in a Danish–Finnish joint prospective cohort study on cryptorchidism (1997–2001). The boys were examined for cryptorchidism at birth and at 3 months. Altogether, 280 placentas [112 Finnish (56 cases, 56 controls) and 168 Danish (39 cases, 129 controls)] were analysed for 17 toxic polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and 37 PCBs (including 12 dioxin-like PCBs). Infant serum samples taken at 3 months were analysed for reproductive hormones. No significant differences between cases and controls were observed in either country in dioxin WHO-TEq levels (median 9.78 vs. 8.47 pg/g fat, respectively, in Finland, and 11.75 vs. 10.88 pg/g fat in Denmark) or PCB WHO-TEq levels (median 2.12 vs. 2.15 pg/g fat in Finland, 2.34 vs. 2.10 pg/g fat in Denmark) or total-TEq levels (median 11.66 vs. 10.58 pg/g fat in Finland, 13.94 vs. 13.00 pg/g fat in Denmark). Placenta WHO-TEq levels of dioxins were not associated with infant reproductive hormone levels at 3 months. In Finland, PCB WHO-TEq levels in placenta associated positively with infant LH levels. WHO-TEq levels of dioxins and PCBs and total-TEq levels were higher in Danish than Finnish samples. In conclusion, no association between placenta levels of dioxins or PCBs and congenital cryptorchidism was found. Significant country differences in chemical levels were observed.

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