The impact of realistic environmental chemical exposure on male gonadal development and reproductive health

Elcombe, Christopher S. (2023) The impact of realistic environmental chemical exposure on male gonadal development and reproductive health. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Continuing declines in human male reproductive health are of increasing concern. Many believe low-dose exposure to vast numbers of chemicals through the environment, particularly during fetal development, are a contributary factor in this decline. To address limitations with traditional, component-based methodologies of assessing chemical mixtures, this research utilised a unique, ovine based, whole-mixture exposure model. This model was used to investigate the impact of gestational exposure to realistic numbers of chemicals, at appropriately low doses, on male reproductive development. The research detailed herein characterises exposure-induced changes to the testes of neonatal, pre-pubertal, and adult male offspring of mothers exposed to an environmental chemical mixture prior to and during pregnancy. A testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS)-like phenotype was described in neonatal and prepubertal testes. This TDS-like phenotype was complemented by transcriptomic analyses which showed an extremely high degree of similarity between the testicular transcriptome of the affected pre-pubertal male offspring and those of human TDS patients. While this phenotype was not apparent in the same manner by adulthood, morphological and transcriptomic alterations were still apparent. This both exemplifies the potential for xenobiotic exposure during fetal development to impact reproductive health in later life, despite the cessation of exposure at birth, and indicates periods of post-partum vulnerability to xenobiotic exposure crucial to the persistence of or recovery from the TDS-like phenotype. Further investigations following transcriptomic analyses identified perturbations in the transcription, activation, and/or nuclear localisation of various transcription factors. Of these, there is supporting evidence that one (HIF1α) may have an important role in the pathogenesis of the TDS-like phenotype, while another (CREB1) may facilitate an amount of post-exposure recovery and might also be important in determining susceptibility or resistance to developing the TDS-phenotype. Overall, these findings strengthen the increasing evidence that gestational exposure to realistic levels and mixtures of environmental chemicals can have a negative impact on male reproductive health and provides leads for future investigations into the pathogenesis of TDS.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH345 Biochemistry
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QP Physiology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Supervisor's Name: Bellingham, Dr Michelle and Evans, Professor Neil
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83549
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2023 14:01
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 14:01
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83549

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