Foetal and post-natal exposure of sheep to sewage sludge chemicals disrupts sperm production in adulthood in a subset of animals

M Bellingham, C McKinnell, P A Fowler, M R Amezaga, Z Zhang, S M Rhind, C Cotinot, B Mandon-Pepin, N P Evans, R M Sharpe

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Abstract

Exposure to ubiquitous, environmental chemicals (ECs) has been hypothesized as a cause for declining male reproductive health. Understanding the long-term effects of EC exposure on reproductive health in humans requires animal models and exposure to 'real life', environmentally relevant, mixtures during development, a life stage of particular sensitivity to ECs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of in utero and post-natal exposure to environmentally relevant levels of ECs, via sewage sludge application to pasture, on the adult male sheep testis. Hormones, liver concentrations of candidate ECs and Sertoli and germ cell numbers in testes of adult rams that were exposed to ECs in sewage sludge in utero, and until weaning via maternal exposure, and post-weaning via grazing pastures fertilized with sewage sludge, were quantified. Evaluated as a single group, exposure to sludge ECs was without significant effect on most parameters. However, a more detailed study revealed that 5 of 12 sludge-exposed rams exhibited major spermatogenic abnormalities. These consisted of major reductions in germ cell numbers per testis or per Sertoli cell and more Sertoli cell-only tubules, when compared with controls, which did not show any such changes. The sludge-related spermatogenic changes in the five affected animals were significantly different from controls (p
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-329
Number of pages13
JournalInternational journal of andrology
Volume35
Issue number3
Early online date13 Dec 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • developmental exposure
  • environmetal chemicals
  • Sertoli cell
  • sheep<animal models
  • sperm production
  • testis

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    Bellingham, M., McKinnell, C., Fowler, P. A., Amezaga, M. R., Zhang, Z., Rhind, S. M., Cotinot, C., Mandon-Pepin, B., Evans, N. P., & Sharpe, R. M. (2012). Foetal and post-natal exposure of sheep to sewage sludge chemicals disrupts sperm production in adulthood in a subset of animals. International journal of andrology, 35(3), 317-329. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2605.2011.01234.x