New evidence for deleterious effects of environmental contaminants on the male gamete

Alisa Komsky-Elbaz, Dorit Kalo, Zvi Roth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The decreasing trend in human and domestic animal fertility in recent decades has resulted in the question of whether reduced sperm quality is associated with changes in global climate and the environment. Proposed causes for reduced sperm quality include environmental contaminants, which enter into the body of animals through the food chain and are transported to the reproductive tract, where contaminating agents can have effects on fertilization capacities of gametes. In this review, there is a focus on various environmental contaminants and potential effects on male fertility. Human-derived contaminants, particularly endocrine-disrupting phthalates and the pesticide atrazine, are discussed. Naturally occurring toxins are also addressed, in particular mycotoxins such as aflatoxin which can be components in food consumed by humans and animals. Mechanisms by which environmental contaminants reduce male fertility are not clearly defined; however, are apparently multifactorial (i.e., direct and indirect effects) with there being diverse modes of action. Results from studies with humans, rodents and domestic animals indicate there are deleterious effects of contaminants on male gametes at various stages of spermatogenesis (i.e., in the testis) during passage through the epididymis, and in mature spermatozoa, after ejaculation and during capacitation. Considering there is never detection of a single contaminant, this review addresses synergistic or additive effects of combinations of contaminants. There is new evidence highlighted for the long-lasting effects of environmental contaminants on spermatozoa and developing embryos. Understanding the risk associated with environmental contaminants for animal reproduction may lead to new management strategies, thereby improving reproductive processes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106886
JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • EDCs, Spermatozoa
  • Embryonic development
  • Environmental contaminants


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