Alteration of sperm quality and hormone levels by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on airborne particulate particles

J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2008 Jun;43(7):675-81. doi: 10.1080/10934520801959815.


The objective of this study was to assess whether polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) affect male reproductive functions in vivo. Male reproductive parameters included testis weight, sperm counts and motility, circulating follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and testosterone. The average body weight, testis weight, and epididymis weight in the exposed group were not significantly lower than that in the control group (p < 0.01). The daily numbers of sperm in the PAH-exposed groups were significantly lower than those in the control group. The motility of sperm in the PAH-exposed groups was significantly less than those in the control group. Plasma LH concentrations increased at the end of the exposure period and continued to increase after post-cessation of exposure to PAHs. Testosterone decreased at the end of the exposure period and increased after post-cessation of exposure. However, the follicle-stimulation hormone level remained relatively stable during the study period. The present study showed that PAHs can compromise sperm functions and alter endocrine hormone levels.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Epididymis / drug effects
  • Epididymis / growth & development
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Testis / growth & development
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Air Pollutants
  • Hormones
  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone