Infertility is a major public health problem with substantial medical, psychosocial, and economic costs. The reasons for women’s infertility mostly relate to ovarian impairment and fallopian tube dysfunction, whereas about 17% of cases are unexplained. Recent studies have linked some chemical exposures with female infertility and premature reproductive aging. Yet, women are exposed to plethora of chemicals of which their effects on reproductive health and function are unknown.
Our research focuses on determining the effects and molecular mechanisms by which endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) affect female reproductive health and function.
Findings from our studies will enhance women’s ability to make informed choices about their reproductive health and aid in developing treatments to circumvent the reprotoxic effects of EDCs.
- The adult oviduct (fallopian tube in women) is a tubular shaped organ localized between the ovary and the uterus. In a timely manner, it houses the gametes prior to fertilization and transports the pre-implantation embryo to the uterus while providing structural, environmental, and nutritional support. Disruption of the oviduct microenvironment can lead to infertility, life-threatening conditions such as ectopic pregnancy, or affect early embryonic stages and the offspring’s health after birth. As an organ that is highly influenced by the endocrine system, the oviduct is susceptible to the toxic effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as parabens. Nonetheless, there is a large knowledge gap regarding the impact of EDCs on the oviduct and particularly during early pregnancy.
We currently aim to determine the effects and mechanisms by which paraben influence on oviductal function and quality of the pre-implantation embryo by using in vivo and in vitro models.
- The adult ovary contains ovarian follicles that continuously develop by the process of folliculogenesis. The most mature follicles are antral follicles which are the main producers of sex-steroid hormones and the only follicle type capable of ovulation. The complex processes of ovarian steroidogenesis and folliculogenesis require an optimal endocrine environment. Unfortunately, EDCs can disrupt ovarian steroidogenesis, and deplete the non-renewable ovarian reserve. This is a major concern as disruption of ovarian function may lead to women’s temporary or permanent infertility, early reproductive senescence, and other diseases.
We currently aim to determine the reprotoxic effects and mechanisms by which paraben influence ovarian function and fertility by using in vivo and in vitro models.
- Menopausal symptoms
Reproductive aging has a profound negative impact on women’s daily functioning and overall health. For example, menopausal hot flashes (HFs) are experienced by millions of women and are associated with sleep disturbances, irritability, forgetfulness, mood swings, and substantial loss in work productivity. HFs may also be indicative of serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease. Further, these negative impacts of reproductive aging are racially disparate. Yet, little is known about the role of environmental exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals on reproductive aging, in women.
We currently aim to examine if paraben levels are associated with accelerated presentation of indicators of ovarian aging, in midlife women.