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DETERMINING HOW PRECONCEPTION EXPOSURE TO PHTHALATES IMPACTS SPERM FUNCTION, THE

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Principal Investigator: Pilsner, J. Richard
Institute Receiving Award University Of Massachusetts Amherst
Location Hadley, MA
Grant Number R01ES030942
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 12 Sep 2019 to 31 May 2022
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): SUMMARY Infertility is one of the most common reproductive health disorders affecting 16% of couples in the U.S. Most concerning are the new meta-analysis data showing that sperm counts among men in developed countries have declined over 50% in the past four decades. With no sign of reversing this downward trajectory in the most recent years, we may not only be facing a fertility crisis, but low sperm count has also wider public health implications including increased risks in morbidity and mortality (3, 4). Given this dramatic decrease in sperm quality over a short period, genetic influences are likely not attributable, but rather, environmental factors encountered over the life-course. In particular, phthalates, a class of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) used in plastics and personal care products, are ubiquitous environmental contaminants resulting in widespread human exposure. The ViCTER mechanism provides a unique opportunity to enhance cross-disciplinary and translational research. As such, our research team is poised to determine how paternal preconception phthalates impacts sperm function, the epigenome and early-life development by leveraging ongoing research in mice models (R01: ES028214; PI: Dr. Pilsner) and couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) as part of the human cohort (Sperm Environmental Epigenetics and Development Study; SEEDS: R01: ES028298; PI: Dr. Pilsner). We hypothesize that a key to understanding how adult exposures to phthalates affects reproductive health lies within sperm epigenetics and physiology. Therefore, our ViCTER objectives are to determine the effects of adult male exposure to phthalates on: 1) small noncoding RNA (sncRNA) in extracellular vesicles (EVs) (Dr. Pilsner); 2) sperm histone methylation (Dr. Kimmins); and 3) sperm capacitation, IVF and embryo development (Dr. Visconti). For our first aim, we will examine the associations of paternal phthalate exposure on sncRNA expression from extracellular vesicles (EVs) of mice and men. Next, we will examine the effect of adult male exposure to phthalates on histone methylation in sperm from mice and men. Finally, we will determine the effect of adult mouse exposure to DEHP, DBP and its mixture on sperm capacitation, acrosome reaction and subsequent embryo development. The proposed research is expected to uncover pathways linking paternal phthalate exposures with adverse reproductive outcomes via sperm physiology and epigenetics. Characterization of potential intermediate pathways between the exposure and outcome continuum is of significant importance because it will inform avenues of translational research for the development of novel approaches to treat and prevent adverse reproductive health.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 67 - Male Reproduction
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Thaddeus Schug
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