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F AND F — Result In Brief

Project ID: 513953
Funded under: FP6-FOOD
Country: Israel

Pharmaceuticals and human fertility decline

Finding the reasons behind the reduction in human fertility has prompted a major European-funded initiative to investigate the effects of pharmaceutical products (PPs) in the environment.
Pharmaceuticals and human fertility decline
Reported declines in fecundity have sparked concerns that food may be one of the contributory factors. The 'Food and fecundity: pharmaceutical products as high risk effectors' (F AND F) project aimed to explore the effects of environmental chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors (EDs).

Prior to the F AND F project, there had been little research into the effects of PPs due mainly to a scarcity of methods for concentrating the suspect chemicals from environmental and food samples. To exacerbate the situation, there has been a lack of rapid, inexpensive diagnostic assays.

Consequently, the main objectives of F AND F were to identify PPs that may affect human fecundity, to discover their means of action and to develop appropriate high-throughput screening assays (HTSAs). In evaluating the risk of food and population exposure to PPs, the F AND F team aimed to assess the possible links between food and fecundity.

F AND F researchers studied the effects and mechanisms of action of five of the major EDs present in our environment including ethynylestradiol (EE2) and fluoxetine, an active ingredient of Prozac™. The scientists used rodent models to evaluate reproductive disruption. They also investigated the possibility that the PPs could disturb gap junction communication between Sertoli cells, 'nurse' cells that nourish developing sperm.

F AND F successfully developed a sol-gel–based immunoaffinity purification (IAP) method for EE2, a common oestrogenic compound. This enabled analysis at the level of one part per trillion using a liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry system. Combined with a microplate diagnostic assay that F AND F generated, it was anticipated that a HTSA with extremely high sensitivity could be developed to monitor the extent of PP contamination as well as human exposure.

Armed with the procedures from the F AND F project, the next step is to establish strategies for risk management. In particular, there may be a correlation to be established between diet, lifestyle and human exposure.

The F AND F project brought together experts in the toxicological field from Austria, Denmark, France, Israel and the United Kingdom. They have established a firm platform to tackle the problem of environmental pollution by PPs.

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