The relationship between exposure to air pollution and sperm disomy

Environ Mol Mutagen. 2015 Jan;56(1):50-9. doi: 10.1002/em.21883. Epub 2014 Jul 3.


The causes of the chromosome abnormalities have been studied for decades. It has been suggested that exposure to various environmental agents can induce chromosomal abnormalities in germ cells. This study was designed to address the hypothesis that exposure to specific air pollutants increases sperm disomy. The study population consisted of 212 men who were attending an infertility clinic for diagnostic purposes. They represented a subset of men in a multicenter parent study conducted in Poland to evaluate environmental factors and male fertility. Sperm aneuploidy for chromosomes 13, 18, 21, X, and Y was assessed using multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization. Air quality data were obtained from the AirBase database. After adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol consumption, temperature (90 days), season, past diseases, abstinence interval, distance from the monitoring station, concentration, motility and morphology, positive associations were observed between exposure to PM2.5 and disomy Y (P = 0.001), sex chromosome disomy (P = 0.05) and disomy 21 (P = 0.03). Exposure to PM10 was associated with disomy 21 (P = 0.02). Conversely, exposure to ozone, CO, SO2, and NOx did not affect sperm aneuploidy. A separate analysis conducted among men who were nonsmokers (n = 117) showed that the relationship between PM2.5 and disomy Y and disomy 21 remained significant (P = 0.01, P = 0.05, respectively). The present findings indicate that exposure to air pollution induces sperm aneuploidy.

Keywords: air pollution; aneuploidy; fluorescent in situ hybridization; semen.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Aneuploidy*
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Infertility, Male / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Semen / chemistry*
  • Spermatozoa / pathology*