UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell Biology

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Dioxins; Furans; Polychlorinated Biphenyls; Puberty; Male; Russia; Sexual Maturation


Cell Biology


Background: Animal data demonstrate associations of dioxin, furan, and PCB exposures with altered male gonadal maturation. It is unclear whether these associations apply to human populations.

Objectives: We investigated the association of dioxins, furans, PCBs and corresponding toxic equivalent (TEQ) concentrations with pubertal onset among boys in a dioxin-contaminated region.

Methods: Between 2003-2005, 489 boys were enrolled at ages 8-9 years in a longitudinal study in Chapaevsk, Russia. Pubertal onset - stages 2 or higher for genitalia (G2+) or testicular volume (TV) > 3 ml - was assessed annually between ages 8-12 years. Serum levels at enrollment were analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess age at pubertal onset as a function of exposure adjusted for potential confounders. Sensitivity analyses were conducted excluding boys with pubertal onset at enrollment.

Results: The median (range) total serum TEQ concentration was 21 (4-175) pg/g lipid, approximately three times higher than values in European children. At enrollment, boys were generally healthy and normal weight (mean BMI 15.9 kg/m2), with 30% having entered puberty by G2+ and 14% by TV criteria. Higher dioxin TEQs were associated with later pubertal onset by TV, hazard ratio = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.49-0.95 for the highest compared with the lowest quartile. Similar associations were observed for 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and dioxin concentrations for TV but not G2+. Results were robust to sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: Findings support an association of higher peri-pubertal serum dioxin TEQs and concentrations with later male pubertal onset reflected in delayed testicular maturation.

DOI of Published Version



Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Apr 28. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Environmental health perspectives

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