Testicular dysgenesis syndrome

Possible role of endocrine disrupters, 2006


The testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS) hypothesis proposes that the four conditions cryptorchidism, hypospadias, impaired spermatogenesis and testis cancer may all be manifestations of disturbed prenatal testicular development. The TDS hypothesis is based on epidemiological, clinical and molecular studies, all suggestive of an interrelation between the different symptoms. The aetiology of TDS is suspected to be related to genetic and/or environmental factors, including endocrine disrupters.

…Important insight into the effect of in utero exposure to compounds with oestrogenic activity in humans comes from the former widespread use of diethylstilboestrol (DES), a synthetic oestrogen. …
… The effect of DES on sperm concentration and risk of development of testis cancer is unclear, as some studies have found a reduced sperm concentration in men exposed to DES in utero, whereas others have not. For testis cancer, only a slight increase in risk has been cautiously suggested (1996), (2001). …

Few human studies have found associations/correlations between endocrine disrupters, including phthalates, and the different TDS components. However, for ethical reasons, evidence of a causal relationship between prenatal exposure and TDS is inherently difficult to establish in human studies, rendering the recently developed animal TDS model an important tool for investigating the pathogenesis of TDS. Clinically, the most common manifestation of TDS is probably a reduced sperm concentration, whereas the more severe form may include a high risk of testis cancer. Clinicians should be aware of the interconnection between the different features of TDS, and inclusion of a programme for early detection of testis cancer in the management of infertile men with poor semen quality is recommended.


  • Testicular dysgenesis syndrome: possible role of endocrine disrupters, Best practice & research. Clinical endocrinology & metabolism, NCBI PubMed PMID: 16522521, 2006 Mar.

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