Predictors and correlations of phthalate metabolite concentrations in urine and seminal plasma among reproductive-aged men

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Abstract

Background:

Certain phthalates are suspected to be endocrine disruptors that are adversely associated with male reproductive health. However, the predictors and correlations of phthalate metabolite concentrations in urine and seminal plasma among reproductive-aged men have not been thoroughly studied.

Objective:

To investigate the predictors and correlations of phthalate metabolite concentrations in urine and seminal plasma among adult Chinese males.

Method:

We measured mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP), monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP), monomethyl phthalate (MMP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP), mono-n-octyl phthalate (MOP), mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP) and mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP) concentrations in seminal plasma and repeated spot-urine samples from 687 men who visited a reproductive center. Mixed-effect models were used to examine the associations of sociodemographic, lifestyle and medical factors with urinary metabolite concentrations. Linear regression models were used to identify predictors of metabolite concentrations in seminal plasma and correlations between metabolite concentrations in spot urine samples and seminal plasma.

Results:

Measurements taken from spot urine samples poorly predicted same-day seminal plasma concentrations (all R2<0.10). Inverse associations were observed between education level and urinary MBP and MEOHP and between household income and urinary MMP; receiving intravenous infusion therapy was associated with increased urinary MBP, MEHHP and MEOHP, use of facial cleanser/cream was associated with increased MEP, and smoking was associated with increased MEHP. The predictors of metabolite concentrations in seminal plasma differed from those in urine, except for the association of intravenous infusion therapy with MBP. BMI was associated with increased seminal plasma MBP, MEHP and MEOHP, smoking was associated with increased MEP, and contact with plastics was associated with increased MEOHP.

Conclusions:

Phthalate metabolite concentrations in adult men varied in accordance with sociodemographic variables, lifestyle factors and intravenous therapy. Measures of metabolite levels in urine may not directly reflect the exposure status of the male reproductive system.

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