Widely used man-made chemicals, including phthalates, can induce hormonal alterations through a variety of cellular and molecular mechanisms. A number of rodent and observational studies have consistently demonstrated the anti-androgenic effect of several phthalates. However, there are only limited data on the relationship between exposure to these chemicals and reproductive hormone levels in men. All men (n=425) were partners of pregnant women who participated in the Study for Future Families in five US cities and provided urine and serum samples on the same day. Eleven phthalate metabolites were measured in urine and serum samples were analysed for reproductive hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, inhibin B and oestradiol and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). Pearson correlations and parametric tests were used for unadjusted analyses, and multiple linear regression analysis was performed controlling for appropriate covariates. We observed weak or no associations with urinary phthalates other than di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). All measures of testosterone [total, calculated free testosterone and the free androgen index (FAI)] were inversely correlated with the urinary concentrations of four DEHP metabolites. After adjustment by appropriate covariates, there was no longer an association between urinary DEHP metabolite concentrations and total testosterone levels; however, FAI was significantly associated with the urinary concentrations of several DEHP metabolites. SHBG was positively related to the urinary concentrations of mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, but not with other DEHP metabolites, an association that was attenuated after adjustment. Our results suggest that DEHP exposure of fertile men is associated with minor alterations of markers of free testosterone.
- Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate metabolites
- Endocrine disruptors
- Male hormones