Role of endometrial concentrations of heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic) in the aetiology of unexplained infertility

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2014 Aug;179:187-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2014.05.039. Epub 2014 Jun 5.

Abstract

Objective: To determine the role of endometrial concentrations of heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic) in the aetiology of unexplained infertility.

Study design: Thirty-three women with unexplained infertility and 32 fertile women were recruited. Endometrial biopsies were collected during the putative window of implantation (cycle days 20-24). The concentrations of cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic were measured in endometrial biopsy specimens using atomic absorption spectrometry.

Results: Cadmium was detected in 91% (30/33) of women with unexplained infertility, compared with 34% (11/32) of fertile women. The median endometrial cadmium concentration was 19.58 (interquartile range 1.46-30.23)μg/l in women with unexplained infertility, compared with 0.00 (interquartile range 0.00-0.40)μg/l in fertile women. Lead was detected in 15% (5/33) of women with unexplained infertility and 3% (1/32) of fertile women. Mercury and arsenic were not detected in any endometrial samples from either group.

Conclusion: A significant difference in endometrial cadmium concentration was found between women with unexplained infertility and fertile women. This suggests that cadmium may be a contributing factor in the aetiology of unexplained infertility.

Keywords: Arsenic; Cadmium; Lead; Mercury; Unexplained infertility.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Cadmium / analysis*
  • Endometrium / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology*
  • Infertility, Female / metabolism
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Mercury / analysis*

Substances

  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Arsenic