[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is predicted that Japan and European Union will soon experience appreciable decreases in their populations due to persistently low total fertility rates (TFR) below replacement level (2.1 child per woman). In the United States, where TFR has also declined, there are ethnic differences. Caucasians have rates below replacement, while TFRs among African-Americans and Hispanics are higher. We review possible links between TFR and trends in a range of male reproductive problems, including testicular cancer, disorders of sex development, cryptorchidism, hypospadias, low testosterone levels, poor semen quality, childlessness, changed sex ratio, and increasing demand for assisted reproductive techniques. We present evidence that several adult male reproductive problems arise in utero and are signs of testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS). Although TDS might result from genetic mutations, recent evidence suggests that it most often is related to environmental exposures of the fetal testis. However, environmental factors can also affect the adult endocrine system. Based on our review of genetic and environmental factors, we conclude that environmental exposures arising from modern lifestyle, rather than genetics, are the most important factors in the observed trends. These environmental factors might act either directly or via epigenetic mechanisms. In the latter case, the effects of exposures might have an impact for several generations post-exposure. In conclusion, there is an urgent need to prioritize research in reproductive physiology and pathophysiology, particularly in highly industrialized countries facing decreasing populations. We highlight a number of topics that need attention by researchers in human physiology, pathophysiology, environmental health sciences, and demography.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Importance:
Probiotics have been hypothesized to affect immunologic responses to environmental exposures by supporting healthy gut microbiota and could therefore theoretically be used to prevent the development of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM)-associated islet autoimmunity.
To examine the association between supplemental probiotic use during the first year of life and islet autoimmunity among children at increased genetic risk of T1DM.
Design, setting, and participants:
In this ongoing prospective cohort study that started September 1, 2004, children from 6 clinical centers, 3 in the United States (Colorado, Georgia/Florida, and Washington) and 3 in Europe (Finland, Germany, and Sweden), were followed up for T1DM-related autoantibodies. Blood samples were collected every 3 months between 3 and 48 months of age and every 6 months thereafter to determine persistent islet autoimmunity. Details of infant feeding, including probiotic supplementation and infant formula use, were monitored from birth using questionnaires and diaries. We applied time-to-event analysis to study the association between probiotic use and islet autoimmunity, stratifying by country and adjusting for family history of type 1 diabetes, HLA-DR-DQ genotypes, sex, birth order, mode of delivery, exclusive breastfeeding, birth year, child's antibiotic use, and diarrheal history, as well as maternal age, probiotic use, and smoking. Altogether 8676 infants with an eligible genotype were enrolled in the follow-up study before the age of 4 months. The final sample consisted of 7473 children with the age range of 4 to 10 years (as of October 31, 2014).
Early intake of probiotics.
Main outcomes and measures:
Islet autoimmunity revealed by specific islet autoantibodies.
Early probiotic supplementation (at the age of 0-27 days) was associated with a decreased risk of islet autoimmunity when compared with probiotic supplementation after 27 days or no probiotic supplementation (hazard ratio [HR], 0.66; 95% CI, 0.46-0.94). The association was accounted for by children with the DR3/4 genotype (HR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.21-0.74) and was absent among other genotypes (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.62-1.54).
Conclusions and relevance:
Early probiotic supplementation may reduce the risk of islet autoimmunity in children at the highest genetic risk of T1DM. The result needs to be confirmed in further studies before any recommendation of probiotics use is made.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The endonuclease DICER that processes microRNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) is essential for normal spermatogenesis and male fertility. We previously showed that the deletion of Dicer1 gene in postnatal spermatogonia in mice using Ngn3 promoter-driven Cre expression caused severe defects in the morphogenesis of haploid spermatid to mature spermatozoon, including problems in cell polarization and nuclear elongation. In this study, we further analyzed the same mouse model and revealed that absence of functional DICER in differentiating male germ cells induces disorganization of the cell-cell junctions in the seminiferous epithelium. We detected discontinuous and irregular apical ectoplasmic specializations between elongating spermatids and Sertoli cells. The defective anchoring of spermatids to Sertoli cells caused a premature release of spermatids into the lumen. Our findings may help also explain the abnormal elongation process of remaining spermatids because these junctions and the correct positioning of germ cells in the epithelium are critically important for the progression of spermiogenesis. Interestingly, cell adhesion-related genes were generally upregulated in Dicer1 knockout germ cells. Claudin5 (Cldn5) was among the most upregulated genes and we show that the polarized localization of CLAUDIN5 in the apical ectoplasmic specializations was lost in Dicer1 knockout spermatids. Our results suggest that DICER-dependent pathways control the formation and organization of cell-cell junctions in the seminiferous epithelium via the regulation of cell adhesion-related genes.
Biology of Reproduction 10/2015; DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.115.131938 · 3.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Congenital cryptorchidism, i.e. failure of the testicular descent to the bottom of the scrotum, is a common birth defect. The evidence from epidemiological, wildlife, and animal studies suggests that exposure to mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals during fetal development may play a role in its pathogenesis. We aimed to assess the association between cryptorchidism and prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
We conducted a case-control study consisting of 44 cryptorchid cases, and 38 controls operated for inguinal hernia, umbilical hernia, or hydrocele at the Turku University Hospital or Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen in 2002-2006. During the operation a subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsy was taken. Samples were analysed for 37 PCBs, 17 PCDD/Fs and 14 PBDEs by gas chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry. Chemical concentrations were adjusted for postnatal variation introduced by differences in duration of breastfeeding, age at the operation, and country of origin with a multiple linear regression. Association between adjusted and unadjusted chemical concentrations and the risk of cryptorchidism were analysed with logistic regression to get an estimate for odds ratio (OR) of cryptorchidism per multiplication of chemical concentrations with ca. 2.71 (Napier's constant).
Total-TEq i.e. the WHO-recommended 2,3,7,8-TCDD equivalent quantity of 17 dioxins and 12 dioxin-like PCBs and sum of PCDD/Fs were positively associated with cryptorchidism [OR 3.21 (95 % CI 1.29-9.09), OR 3.69 (95 % CI 1.45-10.9), respectively], when adjusting for country of origin, the duration the child was breastfed, and age at operation. The association between the sum of PCBs and cryptorchidism was close to significant [OR 1.92 (95 % CI 0.98-4.01)], whereas the association between the sum of PBDEs and cryptorchidism was not [OR 0.86 (95 % CI 0.47-1.54)]. There were no associations between unadjusted chemical concentrations and the risk of cryptorchidism.
Prenatal exposure to PCDD/Fs and PCDD/F-like PCBs may be associated with increased risk for cryptorchidism. Our finding does not exclude the possibility of an association between the exposure to PBDEs and cryptorchidism.
Environmental Health 09/2015; 14(1). DOI:10.1186/s12940-015-0065-0 · 3.37 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viral infections have long been considered potential triggers of beta cell autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes. Recent studies have suggested that influenza A virus might increase the risk of type 1 diabetes. The present study evaluates this risk association in prospectively observed children at the time when islet autoimmunity starts and autoantibodies are first detected.
IgG class antibodies to influenza A virus were analysed in 95 case children whose antibody screening test turned permanently positive for two or more islet autoantibodies and from 186 autoantibody-negative and non-diabetic control children who were matched for time of birth, sex, date of sampling and HLA-conferred risk of diabetes in the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) study. Virus antibodies were measured from the first autoantibody-positive sample using an enzyme immunoassay. None of the children had been vaccinated against influenza A.
The prevalence of influenza A virus antibodies did not differ between the case and control children (42% vs 38%; p = 0.392) and the median antibody levels were also comparable in the two groups (3.0 vs 3.8 enzyme immunoassay units). A similar result was obtained when case and control children were compared separately in subgroups according to different sex, age and HLA-DQ genotype. However, girls had higher antibody levels than boys among both case and control children (median antibody levels 9.0 vs 2.3 enzyme immunoassay units; p = 0.01).
Our results suggest that influenza A infections are not associated with the development of islet autoimmunity in young children with increased genetic susceptibility to type 1 diabetes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) paradigm is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of biomedical research. Environmental stressors that can impact on DOHaD encompass a variety of environmental and occupational hazards as well as deficiency and oversupply of nutrients and energy. They can disrupt early developmental processes and lead to increased susceptibility to disease/dysfunctions later in life. Presentations at the fourth Conference on Prenatal Programming and Toxicity in Boston, in October 2014, provided important insights and led to new recommendations for research and public health action. The conference highlighted vulnerable exposure windows that can occur as early as the preconception period and epigenetics as a major mechanism than can lead to disadvantageous "reprogramming" of the genome, thereby potentially resulting in transgenerational effects. Stem cells can also be targets of environmental stressors, thus paving another way for effects that may last a lifetime. Current testing paradigms do not allow proper characterization of risk factors and their interactions. Thus, relevant exposure levels and combinations for testing must be identified from human exposure situations and outcome assessments. Testing of potential underpinning mechanisms and biomarker development require laboratory animal models and in vitro approaches. Only few large-scale birth cohorts exist, and collaboration between birth cohorts on a global scale should be facilitated. DOHaD-based research has a crucial role in establishing factors leading to detrimental outcomes and developing early preventative/remediation strategies to combat these risks.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Non-compliance with food record submission can induce bias in nutritional epidemiological analysis and make it difficult to draw inference from study findings. We examined the impact of demographic, lifestyle and psychosocial factors on such non-compliance during the first 3 years of participation in a multidisciplinary prospective paediatric study.
The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study collects a 3 d food record quarterly during the first year of life and semi-annually thereafter. High compliance with food record completion was defined as the participating families submitting one or more days of food record at every scheduled clinic visit.
Three centres in the USA (Colorado, Georgia/Florida and Washington) and three in Europe (Finland, Germany and Sweden).
Families who finished the first 3 years of TEDDY participation (n 8096).
High compliance was associated with having a single child, older maternal age, higher maternal education and father responding to study questionnaires. Families showing poor compliance were more likely to be living far from the study centres, from ethnic minority groups, living in a crowded household and not attending clinic visits regularly. Postpartum depression, maternal smoking behaviour and mother working outside the home were also independently associated with poor compliance.
These findings identified specific groups for targeted strategies to encourage completion of food records, thereby reducing potential bias in multidisciplinary collaborative research.
Public Health Nutrition 06/2015; -1:1-10. DOI:10.1017/S1368980015001883 · 2.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transcription factor GATA4 is expressed in somatic cells of the mammalian testis. Gene targeting studies in mice have shown that GATA4 is essential for proper differentiation and function of Sertoli cells. The role of GATA4 in Leydig cell development, however, remains controversial because targeted mutagenesis experiments in mice have not shown a consistent phenotype, possibly due to context-dependent effects or compensatory responses. We therefore undertook a reductionist approach to study the function of GATA4 in Leydig cells. Using microarray analysis and quantitative RT-PCR, we identified a set of genes that are downregulated or upregulated following siRNA-mediated silencing of Gata4 in the murine Leydig tumor cell line mLTC-1. These same genes were dysregulated when primary cultures of Gata4(flox/flox) adult Leydig cells were subjected to adenovirus-mediated cre-lox recombination in vitro. Among the downregulated genes were enzymes of the androgen biosynthetic pathway (Cyp11a1, Hsd3b1, Cyp17a1, Srd5a). Silencing of Gata4 expression in mLTC-1 cells was accompanied by reduced production of sex steroid precursors, as documented by mass spectrometric analysis. Comprehensive metabolomic analysis of GATA4-deficient mLTC-1 cells showed alteration of other metabolic pathways, notably glycolysis. GATA4-depleted mLTC-1 cells had reduced expression of glycolytic genes (Hk1, Gpi1, Pfkp, Pgam1), lower intracellular levels of ATP, and increased extracellular levels of glucose. Our findings suggest that GATA4 plays a pivotal role in Leydig cell function and provide novel insights into metabolic regulation in this cell type.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related changes in DNA methylation occurring in blood leukocytes during early childhood may reflect epigenetic maturation. We hypothesized that some of these changes involve gene networks of critical relevance in leukocyte biology and conducted a prospective study to elucidate the dynamics of DNA methylation. Serial blood samples were collected at 3, 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60 months after birth in ten healthy girls born in Finland and participating in the Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Study. DNA methylation was measured using the HumanMethylation450 BeadChip.
After filtering for the presence of polymorphisms and cell-lineage-specific signatures, 794 CpG sites showed significant DNA methylation differences as a function of age in all children (41.6% age-methylated and 58.4% age-demethylated, Bonferroni-corrected P value <0.01). Age-methylated CpGs were more frequently located in gene bodies and within +5 to +50 kilobases (kb) of transcription start sites (TSS) and enriched in developmental, neuronal and plasma membrane genes. Age-demethylated CpGs were associated to promoters and DNAse-I hypersensitivity sites, located within -5 to +5 kb of the nearest TSS and enriched in genes related to immunity, antigen presentation, the polycomb-group protein complex and cytoplasm.
This study reveals that susceptibility loci for complex inflammatory diseases (for example, IRF5, NOD2, and PTGER4) and genes encoding histone modifiers and chromatin remodeling factors (for example, HDAC4, KDM2A, KDM2B, JARID2, ARID3A, and SMARCD3) undergo DNA methylation changes in leukocytes during early childhood. These results open new perspectives to understand leukocyte maturation and provide a catalogue of CpG sites that may need to be corrected for age effects when performing DNA methylation studies in children.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Increasing evidence suggests that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) contribute to male reproductive diseases and disorders. Purpose: To estimate the incidence/prevalence of selected male reproductive disorders/diseases and associated economic costs that can be reasonably attributed to specific EDC exposures in the European Union (EU). Methods: An expert panel evaluated evidence for probability of causation using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change weight-of-evidence characterization. Exposure-response relationships and reference levels were evaluated, and biomarker data were organized from carefully identified studies from the peer-reviewed literature to represent European exposure and approximate burden of disease as it occurred in 2010. The cost-of-illness estimation utilized multiple peer-reviewed sources. Results: The expert panel identified low epidemiological and strong toxicological evidence for male infertility attributable to phthalate exposure, with a 40-69% probability of causing 618 000 additional assisted reproductive technology procedures, costing €4.71 billion annually. Low epidemiological and strong toxicological evidence was also identified for cryptorchidism due to prenatal polybrominated diphenyl ether exposure, resulting in a 40-69% probability that 4615 cases result, at a cost of €130 million (sensitivity analysis, €117-130 million). A much more modest (0-19%) probability of causation in testicular cancer by polybrominated diphenyl ethers was identified due to very low epidemiological and weak toxicological evidence, with 6830 potential cases annually and costs of €848 million annually (sensitivity analysis, €313-848 million). The panel assigned 40-69% probability of lower T concentrations in 55- to 64-year-old men due to phthalate exposure, with 24 800 associated deaths annually and lost economic productivity of €7.96 billion. Conclusions: EDCs may contribute substantially to male reproductive disorders and diseases, with nearly €15 billion annual associated costs in the EU. These estimates represent only a few EDCs for which there were sufficient epidemiological studies and those with the highest probability of causation. These public health costs should be considered as the EU contemplates regulatory action on EDCs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Islet autoantibodies, in addition to elevated blood glucose, define type 1 diabetes. These autoantibodies are detectable for a variable period of time before diabetes onset. Thus, the occurrence of islet autoantibodies is associated with the beginning of the disease process. The age at, and order in, which autoantibodies appear may be associated with different genetic backgrounds or environmental exposures, or both.
Infants with HLA-DR high-risk genotypes (DR3/4, DR4/4, DR4/8 and DR3/3) were enrolled and prospectively followed with standardised autoantibody assessments quarterly throughout the first 4 years of life and then semi-annually thereafter.
Autoantibodies appeared in 549/8,503 (6.5%) children during 34,091 person-years of follow-up. Autoantibodies at 3 (0.1%) and 6 (0.2%) months of age were rare. Of the 549, 43.7% had islet autoantibodies to insulin (IAA) only, 37.7% had glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibodies (GADA) only, 13.8% had both GADA and IAA only, 1.6% had insulinoma antigen-2 only and 3.1% had other combinations. The incidence of IAA only peaked within the first year of life and declined over the following 5 years, but GADA only increased until the second year and remained relatively constant. GADA only were more common than IAA only in HLA-DR3/3 children but less common in HLA-DR4/8 children.
Islet autoantibodies can occur very early in life and the order of appearance was related to HLA-DR-DQ genotype.