Associations between urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolite levels and reproductive parameters in men from an infertility clinic

Environ Res. 2015 Feb;137:292-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.01.004. Epub 2015 Jan 16.


Organophosphate (OP) pesticides are compounds used for pest control at home or in agriculture activities. Almost all OP pesticides are metabolized to at least one of six possible dialkylphosphates (DAPs). Despite wide use, their potential effects on human reproductive health have not yet been fully characterized. The aim of this study was to evaluate the associations between urinary concentrations of six DAP metabolites and reproductive parameters in men. All men were attended an infertility clinic and provided urine, serum and semen samples on the same day. Six DAP metabolites were measured in urine (dimethylphosphate [DMP], dimethylthiophosphate [DMTP], dimethyldithiophosphate [DMDTP], diethylphosphate [DEP], diethylthiophosphate [DETP], and diethyldithiophosphate [DEDTP]). Sperm quality was assessed by measuring volume, concentration, total sperm count (TSC), motility and morphology, and serum samples were analyzed for reproductive hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), testosterone, prolactin and estradiol. Pearson correlations were used for unadjusted analyses, and multiple linear regression analysis was performed controlling for appropriate covariates. All men presented detectable concentrations of at least one urinary OP metabolite. After adjustment by important covariates, there was a significant positive association between DEDTP concentrations and LH [(β)=11.4; 95% CI 0.81-22.1] as well as FSH levels [(β)=3.2; 95% CI 0.08-6.2]. Sperm concentration and TSC were both significantly inversely associated with DMP, DMDP, DMDTP and ∑DAP in multivariate analysis. Besides, there was a significant inverse association between percentage of motile sperm and DMTP, DMDTP and DEP metabolite concentrations. Our results suggest that exposure to OP pesticides may be associated with decreased sperm counts and motility and altered reproductive hormone levels in male partners of couples seeking for infertility treatment. However, further studies are warranted to confirm and extent these findings.

Keywords: Endocrine disruptors; Organophosphate pesticides; Reproductive hormones; Semen quality.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / urine*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Gonadotropins, Pituitary / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organophosphates / urine*
  • Pesticides / urine*
  • Semen Analysis*
  • Spain
  • Sperm Count


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Gonadotropins, Pituitary
  • Organophosphates
  • Pesticides