Environmental Endocrine Disruptors in Farm Animal Reproduction: Research and Reality


Author’s address (for correspondence): U Magnusson, Division of Reproduction, Department of Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7054, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail: ulf.magnusson@kv.slu.se


In this review, possible comparative advantages of studying endocrine disruption in farm animals vs laboratory rodents are discussed. First, using farm animals, the generality of findings in laboratory rodents are challenged. Farm animals may in certain aspects be better models for humans than laboratory rodents, and sometimes there might be methodological advantages in using farm animals. Second, there are several in vitro studies based on cell-culture systems from sows and cows where the effects of chemicals on sex steroid secretion can be measured and maturation and fertilization of oocytes may be assessed. These in vitro systems are powerful tools for dissecting the mechanisms of action for endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Third, in a set of recent in vivo studies using sheep, goats and pigs, in which very different exposure regimens to endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been used, a full panel of reproductive parameters pertinent to farm animals were assessed. Clinically, it is suggested that endocrine disruption in farm animals should be considered when impaired reproduction could be linked to change in source of feed or pasture. Finally, epigenetic and toxicogenomic approaches can be particularly rewarding in elucidating endocrine disruption in future farm animal studies.