Endocrine Disruptors and Testis Development

EPA Grant Number: R827405
Title: Endocrine Disruptors and Testis Development
Investigators: Skinner, Michael K.
Institution: Washington State University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through July 31, 2002
Project Amount: $534,583
RFA: Endocrine Disruptors (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Endocrine Disruptors , Human Health , Safer Chemicals


The proposed research is designed to develop a better understanding of how endocrine disruptors influence testis development and function. Of particular interest are the cell-cell interactions that regulate testis growth, size and morphogenesis which directly influence male fertility and sperm production. Sertoli cells are the epithelial cells responsible for the onset of embryonic testis development and maintenance of spermatogenesis in the adult testis. Preliminary research has demonstrated that two families of paracrine growth factors directly influence testis development and function. THE HYPOTHESIS TESTED IS THAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS EFFECT LOCALLY PRODUCED PARACRINE GROWTH FACTORS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL FOR TESTICULAR CELL GROWTH AND DIFFERENTIATION DURING EMBRYONIC AND POSTNATAL TESTIS DEVELOPMENT AND THAT THIS DIRECTLY INFLUENCES MALE FERTILITY AND SPERM PRODUCTION IN THE ADULT. Abnormal testis development and male infertility caused by endocrine disruptors may in part be due to inappropriate control of testicular cell growth and differentiation during development. Preliminary studies indicate that the transforming growth factor families are critical for embryonic testis growth. Preliminary studies also indicate that the neurotropin family of factors (i.e. NT3) has a critical role in the morphogenesis of testis development (i.e. sex cord or seminiferous tubule formation). The experimental approach consists of the following specific aims:

  1. Investigate the effects of endocrine disruptors on the transforming growth factor families during testis development.
  2. Investigate the effects of endocrine disruptors on the neurotropin growth factor family during testis development.
  3. Investigate the physiological effects of these endocrine disruptors during testis development on male fertility.
The completion of these studies will provide insight into the mechanisms that endocrine disruptors influence testis growth and function. Testicular cell growth and differentiation is essential for embryonic, prepubertal, pubertal, and adult testis function. Abnormal control of critical cell-cell interactions after treatment with endocrine disruptors is anticipated to result in male infertility. Inappropriate expression of the growth factors or receptors will result in subfertile males. Therefore, observations from the current proposal will provide an understanding of the actions of endocrine disruptors on testis development and function. Information obtained will determine how environmental toxins with estrogenic (e.g. methoxychlor) and anti-androgenic (e.g. vinclozoline) activities may impair male fertility by adversely effecting gonadal neurotropins and transforming growth factors.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 16 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 12 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Environmental biology, chemical pollutants, endocrine disruptors, cell and molecular biology, human health, Northwest EPA region 10., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Health Risk Assessment, Endocrine Disruptors - Environmental Exposure & Risk, endocrine disruptors, Risk Assessments, Biochemistry, Children's Health, Molecular Biology/Genetics, Biology, Endocrine Disruptors - Human Health, EPA Region, neurotropin growth, cell-cell interactions, testis development, EDCs, endocrine disrupting chemicals, sexual development, sertoli cells, developmental biology, human exposure, human growth and development, physiology, fetal development, chemical interference, embryonic development, Region 10, gonad morphology, postnatal development, paracine growth factors

Relevant Websites:


Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • Final Report