Environmental science & technology

Semen phthalate metabolites, spermatozoa apoptosis, and DNA damage: a cross-sectional study in China.

PMID 25671248


Toxicological studies have shown that phthalates, a class of widely used chemicals, can impair male reproductive function, but epidemiological evidence is inconsistent. This study aimed to investigate the associations of semen phthalate metabolites with sperm apoptosis and DNA damage in a Chinese population. We assessed sperm apoptosis markers with Annexin V/PI analysis and sperm DNA integrity with comet assay before measuring eight phthalate metabolites in semen by high-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) among 463 men from Wuhan, China. We found a suggestive dose-response relationship between semen mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) and an increased percentage of Annexin V+/PI- sperm (p for trend of <0.10). We also observed that semen monomethyl phthalate (MMP) and monoethyl phthalate (MEP) were associated with significant dose-related increases in tail length of the comet (both p for trend of <0.01). In conclusion, our data indicate that semen MEHP is associated with increased sperm apoptosis and that semen MMP and MEP are associated with increased sperm DNA damage in a Chinese population.