Implications of environmental toxicants on ovarian follicles: how it can adversely affect the female fertility?

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Environmental Science and Pollution Research


The pool of primordial follicles formed in the ovaries during early development determines the span and quality of fertility in the reproductive life of a woman. As exposure to occupational and environmental toxicants (ETs) has become inevitable, consequences on female fertility need to be established. This review focuses on the ETs, especially well-studied prototypes of the classes endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), heavy metals, agrochemicals, cigarette smoke, certain chemicals used in plastic, cosmetic and sanitary product industries etc that adversely affect the female fertility. Many in vitro, in vivo and epidemiological studies have indicated that these ETs have the potential to affect folliculogenesis and cause reduced fertility in women. Here, we emphasize on four main conditions: polycystic ovary syndrome, primary ovarian insufficiency, multioocytic follicles and meiotic defects including aneuploidies which can be precipitated by ETs. These are considered main causes for reduced female fertility by directly altering the follicular recruitment, development and oocytic meiosis. Although substantial experimental evidence is drawn with respect to the detrimental effects, it is clear that establishing the role of one ET as a risk factor in a single condition is difficult as multiple conditions have common risk factors. Therefore, it is important to consider this as a matter of public and wildlife health.

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