Background: folliculogenesis is a strictly regulated process that may be affected by endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) through sometimes not so clear molecular mechanisms.
Methods: we conducted a multicentric observational study involving six fertility centers across Italy, prospectively recruiting 122 women attending a fertility treatment. Recruited women had age ≤42 years, and normal ovarian reserve. Blood and follicular fluid samples were taken for EDCs measurement using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and each woman completed an epidemiological questionnaire.
Results: The main EDCs found were monobutyl phthalate (MBP) (median blood: 8.96 ng/mL, follicular fluid 6.43 ng/mL), monoethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) (median blood: 9.16 ng/mL, follicular fluid 7.68 ng/mL) and bisphenol A (BPA) (median blood: 1.89 ng/mL, follicular fluid 1.86 ng/mL). We found that serum MBP concentration was significantly associated with the considered area (p < 0.001, adj. mean: 7.61 ng/mL, 14.40 ng/mL, 13.56 ng/mL; Area 1: Milan-Turin, Area 2: Rome-Naples; Area 3: Catania-Bari, respectively) but negatively with home plastic food packaging (p = 0.004). Follicular MBP was associated with irregular cycles (p = 0.019). No association was detected between EDCs and eating habits and other clinical and epidemiological features.
Conclusions: This study represents the first Italian biomonitoring of plastic EDCs in follicular fluid, laying the basis for future prospective evaluation on oocyte quality before assisted reproduction techniques (ART).
Keywords: ART; BPA; LC-MS/MS; follicular fluid; phthalates.