Exposure to PCB and p,p′-DDE in European and Inuit populations: Impact on human sperm chromatin integrity

M. Spanò, G. Toft, L. Hagmar, P. Eleuteri, M. Rescia, A. Rignell-Hydbom, E. Tyrkiel, V. Zvyezday, J.P. Bonde, D. Bizzaro, E.C. Bonefeld-Jørgensen, E. Cordelli, A. Giwercman, B.A.G. Jönsson, J.K. Ludwicki, G.C. Manicardi, H.S. Pedersen, M. Schvets

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102 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Persistent organochlorine pollutants (POP), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p, p′-DDE), are widely found in the environment and considered potential endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC). Their impact on male fertility is still unknown. Methods: To explore the hypothesis that POP is associated with altered sperm chromatin integrity, a cross-sectional study involving 707 adult males (193 Inuits from Greenland, 178 Swedish fishermen, 141 men from Warsaw, Poland, and 195 men from Kharkiv, Ukraine) was carried out. Serum levels of 2,2′,4,4′,5,5′-hexachlorobiphenyl (CB-153), as a proxy of the total PCB burden, and of p,p′-DDE were determined. Sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) was used to assess sperm DNA/chromatin integrity. Results: We found a strong and monotonically increasing DNA fragmentation index with increasing serum levels of CB-153 among European but not Inuit men, reaching a 60% higher average level in the highest exposure group. No significant associations were found between SCSA-derived parameters and p,p′-DDE serum concentrations. Conclusion: These results suggest that human dietary PCB exposure might have a negative impact on the sperm chromatin integrity of adult males but additional issues, including differences in the genetic background and lifestyle habits, still need to be elucidated. © The Author 2005. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3488 - 3499
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Cite this

Spanò, M., Toft, G., Hagmar, L., Eleuteri, P., Rescia, M., Rignell-Hydbom, A., ... Schvets, M. (2005). Exposure to PCB and p,p′-DDE in European and Inuit populations: Impact on human sperm chromatin integrity. Human Reproduction, 20(12), 3488 - 3499. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dei297