Human exposure to environmental contaminants is ubiquitous and can affect individuals living close to as well as remote from the sources of contaminants. All individuals carry a burden of the lipophilic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals in their body. POPs includes polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and certain pesticide residues e.g. dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane/dichloro-diphenyl-dichloroethylene (DDT/DDE), toxaphenes, b-hexachlorocyclohexane, chlordanes, hexachlorobenzene, Mirex. Exposure to POPs elicits a number of species- and tissue-specific toxic responses including effects on the reproductive-, immune- and thyroid system. Study on wildlife populations have documented adverse effects, including reproductive end developmental effects that correlate with exposure to one or more of these endocrine modulating chemicals. Especially the exposure during foetal and early life is critical. Although, no clear cut evidence for adverse endocrine-related human health effects has been obtained, the reasonable suspicion based on wildlife, animal and laboratory studies strengthened the need for further research to address the uncertainty and concern.There are a number of factors that complicate the toxicological assessment. Firstly, it is important to remember that no individual is exposed to a single contaminant but to a complex mixture of contaminants, which is life-long beginning during critical developmental windows. The aim of the present study was to compare the actual level of androgen-like activity in serum fractions containing the lipophilic POPs but free of endogenous hormones between different European and Inuit populations for finally to evaluate whether the xeno-androgenic activity is correlated to bio-accumulated POPs and /or lifestyle.To obtain the serum fraction containing the actual mixture of bio-accumulated POPs SPE-HPLC extraction was performed. The effect of the serum extract on the function of the androgen receptor (AR) trans-activity was determined using the Chinese Hamster Ovary cells CHO-K1, which were transiently transfected with an androgen expression vector and a luciferase reporter plasmid. We will present the xeno-hormone activity data from approximately 100 serum samples from each of the following destinations: Poland, Ukraine, Sweden, and Greenland.
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Copenhagen Workshop on Environment, Reproductive Health and Fertility, 2005