[Is fetal testis in danger?]

Med Sci (Paris). 2005 Dec;21(12):1083-8. doi: 10.1051/medsci/200521121083.
[Article in French]


Estrogens are classically known to play a major role in female reproduction, but there is now compelling evidence that they may also be involved in the regulation of male reproductive function. In humans, a decrease in sperm count and an increase in the incidences of testicular cancer, cryptorchidism and hypospadia have been observed in many countries over the last 50 years. Male reproductive alterations were also observed in wildlife. Such male reproductive disorders have been attributed to the increase in concentration of xenobiotics, and of xenoestrogens in particular, in the environment and in food. Epidemiological, clinical and experimental studies have suggested that excessive exposure to estrogens during fetal/neonatal life can lead to reproductive disorders in adulthood. Using an in vitro model, we showed that estrogens directly affected the development of the fetal testis. Lastly, we clearly demonstrated that the fetal and neonatal testis is very sensitive to estrogens since the invalidation of estrogen receptor alpha leads to an increase of steroidogenesis and the invalidation of estrogen receptor beta enhances the development of the germ cell lineage in the male.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Estrogens / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Testis / abnormalities*
  • Testis / drug effects*
  • Testis / embryology
  • Testis / growth & development
  • Xenobiotics / adverse effects*


  • Estrogens
  • Xenobiotics