Environ Res. 2022 Sep;212(Pt B):113342. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.113342. Epub 2022 Apr 22.


Phthalate exposure has been associated with adverse reproductive outcomes and oxidative stress is a potential mechanism by which they act. However, few human studies have explored co-exposure confounding or joint effects. Furthermore, most studies examine associations between biomarkers of exposure and oxidative stress from the same urine sample. We investigated single-exposure, co-exposure-adjusted, and joint associations between phthalate metabolites and oxidative stress in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study among couples undergoing fertility treatment. We examined cross-sectional associations in both women and men, and longitudinal associations in women. Urine was collected in the follicular phase (women only) and at the time of fertility procedure (women and men), and analyzed for 11 phthalate metabolites. Urine from the time of fertility procedure was analyzed for oxidative stress biomarkers, including free 8-iso-prostaglandin F (8-iso-PGF), its primary metabolite (2,3-dinor-5,6-dihydro-15-F2t-isoprostane [F2-IsoP-M]), and prostaglandin F (PGF). Linear mixed effects models were used to estimate single-exposure associations. Bayesian Kernel Machine Regression (BKMR) was used to adjust for co-exposures and to estimate joint effects. Among women, we observed positive associations between all phthalate metabolites and oxidative stress biomarkers in single-exposure models, but there was clear co-exposure confounding. For instance, in a single-exposure model, we estimated a 63% (95% confidence interval: 51, 77) increase in the 8-iso-PGF metabolite per interquartile range (IQR) difference in mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP) versus a 34% (95% credible interval: 12, 60) increase in co-adjusted models. However, several phthalate metabolites remained associated with oxidative stress in co-exposure models, and the joint effects of all exposures were high (e.g., an 114% increase in the 8-iso-PGF metabolite per IQR difference in all exposures). Longitudinal results were also attenuated compared to cross-sectional results in women; however, the joint effect of all exposures and the 8-iso-PGF metabolite remained positive and statistically significant (11% increase per IQR difference in all exposures, 95% credible interval: 0.2, 23). In men, associations were generally less pronounced, although the joint effect of the mixture on 8-iso-PGF was above the null. Because oxidative stress is related to reproductive success among couples seeking fertility treatment, mitigating phthalate exposure should be considered as a potentially beneficial measure.

PMID:35461852 | PMC:PMC9233083 | DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2022.113342