Toxic effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (Aroclor 1254) on human sperm motility
Li-Gang Jiang1, Lai-Yang Cheng1, Shu-Hui Kong2, Yang Yang2, Yan-Jun Shen2, Chao Chen2, Xiao-Hui Deng2, Shu-Zhen Liu3, Lan Chao3
1 Infertility Center, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan 250014, Shandong, China
2 College of Life Science, Shandong University, Jinan 250014, Shandong, China
3 Key Laboratory of Animal Resistance Research, College of Life Science, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, Shandong, China
Infertility Center, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan 250014, Shandong
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are common environmental contaminants that represent a considerable risk to reproductive toxicity in exposed human populations. Although some experimental studies have suggested an association between the levels of PCBs and semen quality, the direct effects of PCBs on human sperm parameters remain largely unexplored. To this aim, a short-term in vitro incubation experiment that better imitated the putative exposure of sperm to Aroclor 1254 (a commercial PCB mixture) in male reproduction tissue was conducted. Human sperm were incubated with various concentrations (0, 1, 5, or 25 mg l−1 ) of Aroclor 1254 for different amounts of time (3 and 6 h) in vitro. Sperm motility parameters were analyzed with computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA). The proportion of sperm with high mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) and the levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) were detected to explore the probable cause of sperm impairment. Human sperm exposed to continuous Aroclor 1254 exhibited: (i) reduced sperm motility and kinematic parameters, (ii) a proportion of sperm with high ΔΨm that decreased in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05), and (iii) increased levels of ROS compared with controls (P < 0.05). In conclusion, Aroclor 1254 can decrease sperm motility, which may culminate in increased ROS and general mitochondrial dysfunction, thus affecting the fertilization potential of sperm. Our findings suggest a broader understanding of the effect of Aroclor 1254 on human sperm.