Direct action of endocrine disrupting chemicals on human sperm

EMBO Rep. 2014 Jul;15(7):758-65. doi: 10.15252/embr.201438869. Epub 2014 May 12.


Synthetic endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), omnipresent in food, household, and personal care products, have been implicated in adverse trends in human reproduction, including infertility and increasing demand for assisted reproduction. Here, we study the action of 96 ubiquitous EDCs on human sperm. We show that structurally diverse EDCs activate the sperm-specific CatSper channel and, thereby, evoke an intracellular Ca(2+) increase, a motility response, and acrosomal exocytosis. Moreover, EDCs desensitize sperm for physiological CatSper ligands and cooperate in low-dose mixtures to elevate Ca(2+) levels in sperm. We conclude that EDCs interfere with various sperm functions and, thereby, might impair human fertilization.

Keywords: Ca2+ signalling; CatSper; endocrine disrupting chemical; human sperm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrosome / metabolism
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling / drug effects
  • Endocrine Disruptors / chemistry
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacology*
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Protein Binding
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Ligands
  • Calcium