The adverse effects of environmental exposures on the reproductive system have been recognized as significant threat to human health. Through the addition of new faculty and formation of collaborations among them, SWEHSC is now positioned to make significant contributions in this field. The center now counts with expertise in descriptive and mechanistic reproductive toxicology (Craig) and the reproductive and gynecological health epidemiology (Farland).
Phthalates are chemicals commonly used in and able to leach from consumer products including food packaging, medical tubing, cosmetics, and the coating of some oral medications. Epidemiological studies have shown associations between phthalate burden in urine and premature menopause, reduced hormone levels, decreased oocyte retrieval during assisted reproduction, and increased early pregnancy loss in women. Studies in Dr. Craig’s laboratory have used human daily intake and biomonitoring data to study the ability of phthalates to produce phenotypes consistent with these associations using an animal model. Using in vivo and in vitro approaches they have demonstrated that DBP (Dibutyl phthalate) negatively impacts ovarian folliculogenesis and various critical signaling pathways including those involved in cell cycle, apoptosis, and DNA damage recognition and repair.
Female firefighters are a highly exposed population to inhaled environmental exposures, which have been shown to influence their reproductive health, increasing risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, and utilization of fertility drugs to get pregnant. Specifically, firefighters are exposed to Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), as well as chemicals in flame retardants, perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), organic materials, and other products of combustion. Studies in Dr. Farland’s laboratory are measuring Anti-Müllerian (AMH) as a proxy measure of ovarian reserve and timing of menopause to test the hypotheses that and that This research is the basis for a Pilot Project, that was awarded in 2019.