Cryptorchidism as Part of the Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome: The Environmental ConnectionMain K.M. · Skakkebæk N.E. · Toppari J.
aUniversity Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark; bDepartments of Physiology and Paediatrics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Cryptorchidism is part of the testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS), which includes other male reproductive disorders such as hypospadias, testis cancer and reduced semen quality. These diseases appear to be linked by common pathogenic mechanisms, interfering with normal fetal testis development. Testis development and descent is dependent on androgens and thus on an intact hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Although cryptorchidism occurs in rare syndromes and genetic disorders, in the majority of children the etiology remains open. Many maternal and fetal risk factors have been previously identified but recently, scientific focus has also been directed to environmen-tal hormone disrupting chemicals and lifestyle, as the prevalence of testis cancer and cryptorchidism has increased and semen quality decreased over few decades in several countries. Some persistent environmental chemicals, e.g. polychlorinated pesticides and polybrominated flame retardants, were associated with testicular maldescent and testis cancer. In addition, prenatal exposure to phthalates was negatively correlated to testosterone levels and anogenital distance as a measure of androgen effect in infant boys. Alcohol consumption and maternal smoking during pregnancy also appeared to be a risk factor for cryptorchidism. Thus, current evidence suggests that the development of the male reproductive tract may be susceptible to adverse effects of environmental hormone disrupters.
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