Reproductive hormone levels in men exposed to persistent organohalogen pollutants: A study of inuit and three European cohorts

Aleksander Giwercman, Anna Rignell-Hydbom, Gunnar Toft, Lars Rylander, Lars Hagmar, Christian Lindh, Henning S. Pedersen, Jan K. Ludwicki, Vladimir Lesovoy, Maryna Shvets, Marcello Spano, Gian Carlo Manicardi, Davide Bizzaro, Eva C. Bonefeld-Jorgensen, Jens Peter Bonde

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Objective: Persistent organohalogen pollutant (POP) exposure may have a negative impact on reproductive function. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of POP exposure on the male hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis. Participants: Participants included 184 Swedish fishermen and spouses of pregnant women from Greenland (n = 258), Warsaw, Poland (n = 113), and Kharkiv, Ukraine (n = 194). Evaluations/Measurements: Serum levels of 2,2′, 4,4′, 5,5′'-hexachlorobiphenyl (CB-153) and dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethene (p,p'-DDE) were determined in the four populations, showing different exposure patterns: Swedish fishermen, high CB-153/low p,p'-DDE; Greenland, high CB-153/high p,p'-DDE; Warsaw, low CB-153/ moderate p,p'-DDE; Kharkiv, low CB-153/high p,p'-DDE. Serum was also analyzed for testosterone, estradiol, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), inhibin B, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Free testosterone levels were calculated based on testosterone and SHBG. Results: We found significant center-to-center variations in the associations between exposure and the outcomes. The most pronounced effects were observed in Kharkiv, where statistically significant positive associations were found between the levels of both CB-153 and p,p'-DDE and SHBG, as well as LH. In Greenland, there was a positive association between CB-153 exposure and LH. In the pooled data set from all four centers, there was positive association between p,p'-DDE and FSH levels [β = 1.1 IU/L; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.0-1.1 IU/L]. The association between CB-153 levels and SHBG was of borderline statistical significance (β = 0.90 nmol/L; 95% CI, -0.04 to 1.9 nmol/L). Conclusions: Gonadotropin levels and SHBG seem to be affected by POP exposure, but the pattern of endocrine response is the subject of considerable geographic variation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1348 - 1353
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this

Giwercman, A., Rignell-Hydbom, A., Toft, G., Rylander, L., Hagmar, L., Lindh, C., Pedersen, H. S., Ludwicki, J. K., Lesovoy, V., Shvets, M., Spano, M., Manicardi, G. C., Bizzaro, D., Bonefeld-Jorgensen, E. C., & Bonde, J. P. (2006). Reproductive hormone levels in men exposed to persistent organohalogen pollutants: A study of inuit and three European cohorts. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(9), 1348 - 1353.