Proposed Key Characteristics of Male Reproductive Toxicants as an Approach for Organizing and Evaluating Mechanistic Evidence in Human Health Hazard Assessments

Environ Health Perspect. 2019 Jun;127(6):65001. doi: 10.1289/EHP5045. Epub 2019 Jun 14.


Background: Assessing chemicals for their potential to cause male reproductive toxicity involves the evaluation of evidence obtained from experimental, epidemiological, and mechanistic studies. Although mechanistic evidence plays an important role in hazard identification and evidence integration, the process of identifying, screening and analyzing mechanistic studies and outcomes is a challenging exercise due to the diversity of research models and methods and the variety of known and proposed pathways for chemical-induced toxicity. Ten key characteristics of carcinogens provide a valuable tool for organizing and assessing chemical-specific data by potential mechanisms for cancer-causing agents. However, such an approach has not yet been developed for noncancer adverse outcomes.

Objectives: The objective in this study was to identify a set of key characteristics that are frequently exhibited by exogenous agents that cause male reproductive toxicity and that could be applied for identifying, organizing, and summarizing mechanistic evidence related to this outcome.

Discussion: The identification of eight key characteristics of male reproductive toxicants was based on a survey of known male reproductive toxicants and established mechanisms and pathways of toxicity. The eight key characteristics can provide a basis for the systematic, transparent, and objective organization of mechanistic evidence relevant to chemical-induced effects on the male reproductive system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genitalia, Male / drug effects*
  • Hazardous Substances*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Assessment / standards
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Toxicity Tests / standards


  • Hazardous Substances