Shorter Anogenital Distance Predicts Poorer Semen Quality in Young Men in Rochester, New York

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.98). 03/2011; 119(7):958-63. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1103421
Source: PubMed


In male rodents, anogenital distance (AGD) provides a sensitive and continuous correlate of androgen exposure in the intrauterine environment and predicts later reproductive success. Some endocrine-disrupting chemicals can alter male reproductive tract development, including shortening AGD, in both rodents and humans. Whether AGD is related to semen quality in human is unknown.
We examined associations between AGD and semen parameters in adult males.
We used multiple regression analyses to model the relationships between sperm parameters and two alternative measures of AGD [from the anus to the posterior base of the scrotum (AGD(AS)) and to the cephalad insertion of the penis (AGD(AP))] in 126 volunteers in Rochester, New York.
AGD(AS), but not AGD(AP), was associated with sperm concentration, motility, morphology, total sperm count, and total motile count (p-values, 0.002-0.048). Men with AGD(AS) below (vs. above) the median were 7.3 times more likely (95% confidence interval, 2.5-21.6) to have a low sperm concentration (< 20 × 10⁶/mL). For a typical study participant, sperm concentrations were 34.7 × 10⁶/mL and 51.6 × 10⁶/mL at the 25th and 75th percentiles of (adjusted) AGD(AS).
In our population, AGD(AS) was a strong correlate of all semen parameters and a predictor of low sperm concentration. In animals, male AGD at birth reflects androgen levels during the masculinization programming window and predicts adult AGD and reproductive function. Our results suggest, therefore, that the androgenic environment during early fetal life exerts a fundamental influence on both AGD and adult sperm counts in humans, as demonstrated in rodents.

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Available from: Niels Jørgensen
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    • "AGD is being used increasingly as a bioindicator of fetal androgen exposure in humans and, in particular, to estimate the consequences of adverse in utero exposure (e.g. Swan et al., 2005; Kristensen et al., 2011; Mendiola et al., 2011; Castano-Vinyals et al., 2012; Eisenberg et al., 2012; Hsieh et al., 2012; Barrett et al., 2013; Jain and Singal, 2013; Papadopoulou et al., 2013b; Vafeiadi et al., 2013; Mira-Escolano et al., 2014a, b; Thankamony et al., 2014; Adibi et al., 2015; Bornehag et al., 2015; Swan et al., 2015). There is, for example, increasing evidence for a strong link between AGD and reproductive health in men (Eisenberg et al., 2011) and women (Mendiola et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: STUDY QUESTION Do sex and maternal smoking effects on human fetal anogenital distance (AGD) persist in a larger study and how do these data integrate with the wider literature on perinatal human AGD, especially with respect to sex differences?
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    • "In 2005, Swan et al., reported for relationship between phthalates and reduced anogenital distance in baby boys. Mendiola et al., 2011 determined the association of phthalates exposure with reduced sperm in young men. Swan et al., 2005 reported that the babies of mothers exposed to high levels of four phthalate metabolites -MI, MBzP, MEP and MiBP, have lower anogenital index and is more likely to have small genitals and partially no descended testes (Swan et al., 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: A number of reports published worldwide create awareness on the harms of global usage of phthalates in various products. The concern towards potential exposure of consumers to phthalates through many sources and different routes of administration is increasing day by day. Evidences of phthalates in toys and phthalate metabolites in the urine of children are becoming common. Children under 3 years are more sensitive as compared to general population towards this problem due to their additional intake of plasticizers by chewing toys. Phthalates are found to cause allergy, asthma and affecting kidney, liver and endocrine system, especially at a young age. As phthalates bear the property to soften the hard plastic material, soft toys possess their higher content in comparison to hard toys. Their usage is restricted in EU, United States and Canada and several other countries mainly in toys suspected to be kept in mouth. Phthalates basically included in the banned for toys category are DEHP, DBP, BBP, DNOP, DIDP and DINP. Usage of less than 0.1% phthalates has been allowed for plastic toys and directives are given to producers to label the age of children who may use the toys and specify its hazards. Parents are suggested to control these labels before buying the phthalate plasticizers based products.
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    • "In males, children with hypospadias and cryptorchidism have significantly shorter AGD than controls (Hsieh et al., 2008, 2012; Thankamony et al., 2013). In male adults, shorter AGD predicts poorer semen quality (Eisenberg et al., 2011; Mendiola et al., 2011) and reduced testosterone and testicular volume (Eisenberg et al., 2012). Among men seen in an infertility clinic, AGD was longer in fathers than in infertile men (Eisenberg et al., 2011). "
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