Exposure to perfluorinated compounds and human semen quality in arctic and European populations

G. Toft, B.A.G. Jönsson, C.H. Lindh, A. Giwercman, M. Spano, D. Heederik, V. Lenters, R. Vermeulen, L. Rylander, H.S. Pedersen, J.K. Ludwicki, V. Zviezdai, J.P. Bonde

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background: Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) have been suspected to adversely affect human reproductive health. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between PFC exposure and male semen quality. methods: PFCs were measured in serum from 588 partners of pregnant women from Greenland, Poland and Ukraine who provided a semen sample, using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) could be detected in .97% of the samples. The associations between levels of these compounds and semen volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count, motility and morphology were assessed. results: Across countries, sperm concentration, total sperm count and semen volume were not consistently associated with PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS or PFNA levels. The proportion of morphologically normal cells was 35% lower [95% confidence interval (CI): 4-66%) for the third tertile of PFOS exposure as compared with the first. A similar reduction was found in relation to increasing PFHxS levels. At the third PFOA exposure tertile, the percentage of motile spermatozoa was 19% (95% CI: 1 to 39%) higher than in the first. conclusions: The most robust finding in the present study was the negative associations between PFOS exposure and sperm morphology suggesting adverse effects of PFOS on semen quality, possibly due to interference with the endocrine activity or sperm membrane function. It cannot be excluded that this association and the positive association between PFOA and semen motility, which was not consistent across countries, might represent a chance finding due to the multiple statistical tests being performed. © The Author 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2532 - 2540
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Cite this

Toft, G., Jönsson, B. A. G., Lindh, C. H., Giwercman, A., Spano, M., Heederik, D., Lenters, V., Vermeulen, R., Rylander, L., Pedersen, H. S., Ludwicki, J. K., Zviezdai, V., & Bonde, J. P. (2012). Exposure to perfluorinated compounds and human semen quality in arctic and European populations. Human Reproduction, 27(8), 2532 - 2540. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/des185