Impaired hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis activity, spermatogenesis, and sperm function promote infertility in males with lead poisoning

Lead poisoning is a stealthy threat to human physiological systems as chronic exposure can remain asymptomatic for long periods of time before symptoms manifest. We presently review the biophysical mechanisms of lead poisoning that contribute to male infertility. Environmental and occupational exposure of lead may adversely affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis, impairing the induction of spermatogenesis. Dysfunction at the reproductive axis, namely testosterone suppression, is most susceptible and irreversible during pubertal development. Lead poisoning also appears to directly impair the process of spermatogenesis itself as well as sperm function. Spermatogenesis issues may manifest as low sperm count and stem from reproductive axis dysfunction or testicular degeneration. Generation of excessive reactive oxygen species due to lead-associated oxidative stress can potentially affect sperm viability, motility, DNA fragmentation, membrane lipid peroxidation, capacitation, hyperactivation, acrosome reaction, and chemotaxis for sperm-oocyte fusion, all of which can contribute to deter fertilization. Reproductive toxicity has been tested through cross-sectional analysis studies in humans as well as in vivo and in vitro studies in animals.

Zygote (Cambridge, England). 2017 Feb 10 [Epub ahead of print]

Jason Gandhi, Rafael J Hernandez, Andrew Chen, Noel L Smith, Yefim R Sheynkin, Gargi Joshi, Sardar Ali Khan

Department of Physiology and Biophysics,Stony Brook University School of Medicine,Stony Brook,New York,USA., Foley Plaza Medical,New York,New York,USA., Department of Urology,Health,Sciences Center Level 9 Room 040,Stony Brook University School of Medicine,101 Nicolls Road,Stony Brook,New York 11794-8093,USA.