Potential influence of the phthalates on normal liver function and cardiometabolic risk in males

Environ Monit Assess. 2017 Dec 13;190(1):17. doi: 10.1007/s10661-017-6398-0.


Phthalates are ubiquitous environmental contaminants, massively used in industry as plasticizers and additives in cosmetics, which may impair the human endocrine system inducing fertility problems, respiratory diseases, obesity, and neuropsychological disorders. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of the monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) on the liver function and cardiometabolic risk factors in males. In this research, 102 male participants (51 normal weight and 51 overweight/obese) were enrolled and examined for phthalate metabolites exposure in urine samples after 12 h of fasting. MEP was found in 28.43% (29/102) volunteers, while MEHP was detected among 20.59% (21/102) participants. Statistically significant increment in transaminase serum levels was observed in MEP-positive normal weight subgroup. Linear correlation was obtained between MEP concentration in urine samples and triglyceride (TG) serum levels (r 2 = 0.33; p < 0.01), visceral adiposity index (VAI) (r 2 = 0.41; p < 0.01), lipid accumulation product (LAP) (r 2 = 0.32; p < 0.01), and TG to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio (r 2 = 0.40, p < 0.01) among the obese. The MEHP-positive normal weight volunteers had statistically significant increment of body mass index (p = 0.03) compared to MEHP-negative participants. Urine MEHP concentrations were negatively correlated with HDL serum levels (r 2 = 0.31; p < 0.05) in the normal weight subgroup. The phthalates exposure may be related to statistically significant ALT and AST serum levels increment as well as with increased BMI, while the phthalate levels in the urine may be correlated with increased TG and decreased HDL cholesterol serum levels and associated with indicators of cardiometabolic risk and insulin resistance as LAP and VAI.

Keywords: Cardiometabolic risk factors; Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Insulin resistance; Liver damage; Phthalates.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / urine
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / analogs & derivatives
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / toxicity
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / urine
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / urine
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / urine
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity*
  • Phthalic Acids / urine
  • Risk
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Phthalic Acids
  • monoethyl phthalate
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate
  • mono-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate