Reproductive Function in a Population of Young Faroese Men with Elevated Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Perfluorinated Alkylate Substances (PFAS)

Maria Skaalum Petersen, Jónrit Halling, Niels Jørgensen, Flemming Nielsen, Philippe Grandjean, Tina Kold Jensen, Pál Weihe

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Semen quality may be adversely affected by exposure to environmental chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and perfluorinated alkylate substances (PFASs) that are persistent and may act as endocrine disrupting compounds. The aim of this study was to explore whether PCBs or PFASs exposure were associated with abnormalities in semen quality or reproductive hormones in Faroese men. This population based cross-sectional study includes 263 Faroese men (24⁻26 years) who delivered a semen sample for assessment of sperm concentration, total sperm count, semen volume, morphology and motility. A blood sample was drawn and analyzed for reproductive hormones, PCBs and PFASs. Exposure to ∑PCBs and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was positively associated with sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In addition, total testosterone (T) was positively associated with ∑PCB. Both PCBs and PFOS appear to lead to increased SHBG, perhaps mediated via the liver. The higher total T associated with PCB may represent a compensatory adaption to elevated SHBG levels to maintain an unchanged free testosterone concentration. The positive association to LH for both PCBs and PFOS may indicate a direct adverse effect on the testosterone producing Leydig cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1880
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1. Sep 2018



  • Endocrine disturbing compounds
  • Faroe Islands
  • Reproductive hormones
  • Semen quality

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