Dietary exposure to methyl mercury and PCB and the associations with semen parameters among Swedish fishermen.

Research paper by Anna A Rignell-Hydbom, Anna A Axmon, Thomas T Lundh, Bo A BA Jönsson, Tarmo T Tiido, Marcello M Spano

Indexed on: 10 May '07Published on: 10 May '07Published in: Environmental Health


Dietary POP exposure have shown negative effects on sperm motility and sperm chromatin integrity, as well as an increased proportion of Y-chromosome bearing sperms. However, it has been suggested that in epidemiological studies investigating persistent organochlorine pollutant (POP)-toxicity, other pollutants occurring simultaneously may carry an increased risk of effects, which may obscure a clear interpretation of the role of POP toxicity. One such pollutant is methyl mercury (MeHg), which has been found in fatty fish from the Baltic Sea and as a consequence men with a high consumption of such fish has been found to have twice the MeHg levels compared to men with a low fish consumption. The aim of the present study was to assess if exposure to MeHg affects male reproductive function, assessed by measuring human sperm motility, sperm concentration, total sperm count, sperm chromatin integrity and the proportion of Y-chromosome bearing sperms. Secondly we also investigated a possible interaction between MeHg and 2, 2', 4, 4', 5, 5'-hexachlorobiphenyl (CB-153), a biomarker for POP exposure, with respect to sperm outcome measures. Blood and semen samples were collected from 195 Swedish fishermen with a mean age of 47 (range 24-67 years). Blood levels of MeHg ranged from 0.11 to 16.59 microg/L (median 2.25 microg/L) and serum levels of CB-153 from 37 to 1460 ng/g lipid (median 190 ng/g lipid). The analyses revealed no association between MeHg and any of the outcomes investigated. Although men with low MeHg and high CB-153 had slightly higher DNA Fragmentation Index and fraction of Y-chromosome bearing sperms than men with low levels of both compounds, the effects were not statistically significant. In conclusion, we did not find any associations between MeHg exposure and semen quality or quantity in the dose range observed neither was any synergistic effects between MeHg and CB-153 noted.

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