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One of the most consumed pesticides in the world is glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide ROUNDUP®. Studies demonstrate that glyphosate can act as an endocrine disruptor and that exposure to this substance at critical periods in the developmental period may program the fetus to induce reproductive damage in adulthood. Our hypothesis is that maternal exposure to glyphosate during pregnancy and lactation in mice will affect the development of male reproductive organs, impairing male fertility during adult life. Female mice consumed 0.5% glyphosate-ROUNDUP® in their drinking water [glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) group] or filtered water [control (CTRL) group] from the fourth day of pregnancy until the end of the lactation period. Male F1 offspring were designated, according to their mother’s treatment, as CTRL-F1 and GBH-F1. Female mice that drank glyphosate displayed reduced body weight (BW) gain during gestation, but no alterations in litter size. Although GBH male F1 offspring did not exhibit modifications in BW, they demonstrated delayed testicular descent. Furthermore, at PND150, GBH-F1 mice presented a lower number of spermatozoa in the cauda epididymis and reduced epithelial height of the seminiferous epithelium. Notably, intratesticular testosterone concentrations were enhanced in GBH-F1 mice; we show that it is an effect associated with increased plasma and pituitary concentrations of luteinizing hormone. Therefore, data indicate that maternal exposure to glyphosate-ROUNDUP® during pregnancy and lactation may lead to decreased spermatogenesis and disruptions in hypothalamus–pituitary–testicular axis regulation in F1 offspring.
Foetal sex hormones can have powerful and far-reaching effects on later phenotype. However, obtaining accurate measurements is difficult for ethical reasons, and researchers often employ proxy variables to examine their effects. The relative length of the second and fourth fingers (digit ratio or 2D:4D) is frequently used for this purpose, as it is hypothesized to index variance in prenatal androgen and oestrogen exposure. Most studies employing this method examine digit ratio for the right hand (R2D:4D) and/or left hand (L2D:4D), though the mean value (M2D:4D) (i.e., the average of R2D:4D and L2D:4D) and directional asymmetry (D[R–L]) (i.e., R2D:4D minus L2D:4D) are also commonly used. As no published studies have examined M2D:4D or D[R-L] in relation to testosterone measured from amniotic fluid, we conducted a secondary analysis of data published by Ventura et al. The sample comprises 106 mothers from Portugal who underwent amniocentesis during the second trimester and their neonates. Newborn M2D:4D was negatively correlated with amniotic testosterone in females (P<0.05) but not in males; no significant association was observed between amniotic testosterone and D[R–L] in either sex. In addition, we examined testosterone measured from maternal circulation during the second trimester, and found that it was not a significant predictor of M2D:4D or D[R–L] in male or female infants. Further research should aim to measure the ratio of testosterone to oestradiol present in amniotic fluid and maternal plasma, to examine whether either is a predictor of digit ratio variables at different stages of postnatal development.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects ~7% of reproductive age women. Although its etiology is unknown, in animals, excess prenatal testosterone (T) exposure induces PCOS-like phenotypes. While measuring fetal T in humans is infeasible, demonstrating in utero androgen exposure using a reliable newborn biomarker, anogenital distance (AGD), would provide evidence for a fetal origin of PCOS and potentially identify girls at risk. Using data from a pregnancy cohort (The Infant Development and Environment Study), we tested the novel hypothesis that infant girls born to women with PCOS have longer AGD, suggesting higher fetal T exposure, than girls born to women without PCOS. During pregnancy, women reported whether they ever had a PCOS diagnosis. After birth, infant girls underwent two AGD measurements: anofourchette distance (AGD-AF) and anoclitoral distance (AGD-AC). We fit adjusted linear regression models to examine the association between maternal PCOS and girls’ AGD. In total, 300 mother–daughter dyads had complete data and 23 mothers reported PCOS. AGD was longer in the daughters of women with a PCOS diagnosis compared with daughters of women with no diagnosis (AGD-AF: β=1.21, P=0.05; AGD-AC: β=1.05, P=0.18). Results were stronger in analyses limited to term births (AGD-AF: β=1.65, P=0.02; AGD-AC: β=1.43, P=0.09). Our study is the first to examine AGD in offspring of women with PCOS. Our results are consistent with findings that women with PCOS have longer AGD and suggest that during PCOS pregnancies, daughters may experience elevated T exposure. Identifying the underlying causes of PCOS may facilitate early identification and intervention for those at risk.
The aim of this study was to determine if the absence of the mother during rearing has long-term effects on sexual behaviour and physiological reproductive parameters of adult rams. Two groups of rams were: (1) artificially reared, separated from their dams 24 to 36 h after birth (Week 0) and fed using sheep milk until 10 weeks of age (group AR, n=14); and (2) reared by their dams until 10 weeks of age (group DR, n=13). Sexual behaviour (tests of 20 min) and physiological reproductive parameters were analysed separately for the non-breeding (Weeks 42 to 64) and the breeding (Weeks 66 to 90) seasons. Body weight, scrotal circumference, gonado-somatic index, testosterone concentrations or sperm parameters were similar in both rearing conditions (AR v. DR) in both seasons. During the non-breeding season AR rams displayed fewer ano-genital sniffings (AR: 4.2±0.4 v. DR: 5.3±0.4, P=0.04) and matings (AR: 1.2±0.2 v. DR: 1.8±0.2, P=0.002) than DR rams. During the breeding season AR rams displayed fewer ano-genital sniffings (AR: 4.3±0.5 v. DR: 5.7±0.5, P=0.005), flehmen (AR: 0.7±0.2 v. DR: 1.1±0.2, P=0.03), mount attempts (AR: 1.4±0.2 v. DR: 2.1±0.2, P=0.04), and tended to mount less frequently (AR: 6.6±0.9 v. DR: 8.8±0.9, P=0.08) than DR rams. In conclusion, the absence of the mother during the rearing period negatively affected display of sexual behaviour towards oestrous ewes during a rams adult life in both breeding and non-breeding seasons. However, it did not affect testis size, testosterone secretion or sperm variables.
We investigated the physiology of two closely related albatross species relative to their breeding strategy: black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophris) breed annually, while grey-headed albatrosses (T. chrysostoma) breed biennially. From observations of breeding fate and blood samples collected at the end of breeding in one season and feather corticosterone levels (fCort) sampled at the beginning of the next breeding season, we found that in both species some post-breeding physiological parameters differed according to breeding outcome (successful, failed, deferred). Correlations between post-breeding physiology and fCort, and links to future breeding decisions, were examined. In black-browed albatrosses, post-breeding physiology and fCort were not significantly correlated, but fCort independently predicted breeding decision the next year, which we interpret as a possible migratory carry-over effect. In grey-headed albatrosses, post-breeding triglyceride levels were negatively correlated with fCort, but only in females, which we interpret as a potential cost of reproduction. However, this potential cost did not carry-over to future breeding in the grey-headed albatrosses. None of the variables predicted future breeding decisions. We suggest that biennial breeding in the grey-headed albatrosses may have evolved as a strategy to buffer against the apparent susceptibility of females to negative physiological costs of reproduction. Future studies are needed to confirm this.
We investigated how different levels of prenatal exposure to testosterone influence physiological reactions to dyadic interactions, hypothesising that higher levels of prenatal testosterone are linked to greater physiological responses.
Autonomic nervous system responses to dyadic interactions focussed on social or physical norms were measured. Physiological assessment of excitability (heart rate, facial temperature) and a behavioural assessment (Likert items judgements) were run on 25 neurotypical participants who had distinct testosterone exposure levels in utero. In utero exposure to testosterone was assessed measuring 2D : 4D (ratio between the lengths of the index and the ring fingers).
Higher testosterone exposure participants showed greater physiological arousal: a greater heart rate decrease, independent from scenario type (p<0.05), and opposite facial temperature changes in response to social (increase) (vs.) physical scenarios (decrease) were found (Left-cheek: p<0.05; Right-cheek: p<0.05).
These findings suggest a long-term influence of prenatal environment on adults’ physiological responses during social situations.
Parasites are detrimental to host fitness and therefore should strongly select for host defence mechanisms. Yet, hosts vary considerably in their observed parasite loads. One notable source of inter-individual variation in parasitism is host sex. Such variation could be caused by the immunomodulatory effects of gonadal steroids. Here we assess the influence of gonadal steroids on the ability of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) to defend themselves against a common and deleterious parasite (Gyrodactylus turnbulli). Adult male guppies underwent 31 days of artificial demasculinization with the androgen receptor-antagonist flutamide, or feminization with a combination of flutamide and the synthetic oestrogen 17 β-estradiol, and their parasite loads were compared over time to untreated males and females. Both demasculinized and feminized male guppies had lower G. turnbulli loads than the untreated males and females, but this effect appeared to be mainly the result of demasculinization, with feminization having no additional measurable effect. Furthermore, demasculinized males, feminized males and untreated females all suffered lower Gyrodactylus-induced mortality than untreated males. Together, these results suggest that androgens reduce the ability of guppies to control parasite loads, and modulate resistance to and survival from infection. We discuss the relevance of these findings for understanding constraints on the evolution of resistance in guppies and other vertebrates.
Societal pressure to ban surgical castration of male piglets is rising due to animal welfare concerns, thus other methods to prevent boar taint need to be explored. Genetic selection against boar taint appears to be a long-term sustainable alternative. However, as boar taint is linked to reproductive hormones, it is important to consider possible negative side effects such as delayed sexual maturity or changes in behaviour. We reported earlier that the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) marker can be used to reduce boar taint levels in fat of boars. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether MC4R marker-assisted selection for lower boar taint prevalence affects plasma levels of boar taint compounds and testosterone; sexual maturity; behaviour; skin lesions; and lameness in boars and gilts. Using an intervention study with a 2×2 design, 264 boars and gilts differing on position 893 of the MC4R gene (AA v. GG) were compared. The MC4R polymorphism did not affect the plasma concentration of either androstenone or testosterone at different time points, whereas the concentration of skatole was significantly lower (P=0.003) and the concentration of indole tended to be lower (P=0.074) in GG compared with AA boars. A higher percentage of gilts of the GG genotype were in puberty at slaughter age compared with AA gilts (P<0.001). The age of the boars at sexual maturity (as indicated by the first positive preputial smear test) did not differ between AA and GG boars. In contrast, weight of GG boars at sexual maturity tended to be lower (P=0.065). During the period from 6 weeks of age to slaughter, boars and gilts of the GG genotype showed more playing behaviour (P=0.015) and less passive and feeding behaviour (P=0.003). They showed more skin lesions on their back and caudal area (P=0.022), and tended to show more skin lesions on their head and anterior area (P=0.093) compared with AA animals. In conclusion, the polymorphism in the MC4R gene can be used as a marker without negative effects on reproduction characteristics in boars and gilts. Genetic selection towards a lower prevalence of boar taint will lead to more active pigs with more skin lesions. Management strategies may therefore be necessary to reduce skin lesions in the selected animals.
Aggression and violence represent a significant public health concern and a clinical challenge for the mental healthcare provider. A great deal has been revealed regarding the neurobiology of violence and aggression, and an integration of this body of knowledge will ultimately serve to advance clinical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions. We will review here the latest findings regarding the neurobiology of aggression and violence. First, we will introduce the construct of aggression, with a focus on issues related to its heterogeneity, as well as the importance of refining the aggression phenotype in order to reduce pathophysiologic variability. Next we will examine the neuroanatomy of aggression and violence, focusing on regional volumes, functional studies, and interregional connectivity. Significant emphasis will be on the amygdala, as well as amygdala–frontal circuitry. Then we will turn our attention to the neurochemistry and molecular genetics of aggression and violence, examining the extensive findings on the serotonergic system, as well as the growing literature on the dopaminergic and vasopressinergic systems. We will also address the contribution of steroid hormones, namely, cortisol and testosterone. Finally, we will summarize these findings with a focus on reconciling inconsistencies and potential clinical implications; and, then we will suggest areas of focus for future directions in the field.
Currently, a considerable amount of work stress is present in school teachers,
one of the occupational groups with the highest levels of job strain and
burnout. As chronic stress produces significant modifications in emotional
adjustment and neuroendocrine functioning, we aimed to investigate the role of
these work stress constructs in the endocrine and mood responses of a group of
female teachers during two working days (WD) at different moments in the
academic year. We studied mood as well as levels of cortisol and testosterone,
representative of a predominant catabolic or anabolic balance. Our results
showed that higher “control” was associated with higher
positive mood (p = .028 on WD1 and
p = .057 on WD2) and salivary testosterone (Tsal)
(p = .022 on WD1), whereas
“demands” and “total job strain”
were related to negative mood (p = .011 and
p = .015, respectively). Participants with
higher scores on “total burnout” and “emotional
exhaustion” also had higher negative mood (p
< .05 in all cases). Depersonalization correlated positively with
negative mood (p = .019 and p
= .006 on WD1 and WD2, respectively). Finally, personal
accomplishment showed an inverse relationship with negative mood
(p = .038 on WD2). These results are useful for job
risk prevention and interventions that should focus on the control dimension of
the job strain questionnaire and on personal accomplishment from the burnout
Surgical castration in pig husbandry is criticized for welfare reasons. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate alternative ways of rearing male pigs, such as entire or immunocastrated animals. Immunocastration is a vaccination directed against gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to suppress the production of sexual hormones. This study aimed at investigating the effects of these two methods of castration in comparison with intact male pigs on blood T-lymphocyte subsets and function, the immunoglobulin (Ig) response to an influenza vaccine and health markers during sexual development. A total of 70 animals were allocated to three experimental groups: entire (E), surgically castrated at 5 to 6 days of age (SC), and immunized against GnRH at 3 and 4 months of age (IC). Blood samples were collected at 3, 4 and 5 months. At slaughter, global health status and body and spleen weights were measured. Results showed that SC male pigs had fewer blood lymphocytes than E pigs at 4 and 5 months (P<0.05), whereas IC pigs did not differ significantly from E pigs. The percentages of CD3+, CD3+CD4+ and CD3+CD8+ lymphocytes were not altered by treatment (P>0.1). Compared with E pigs, the SC pigs had a higher percentage of CD3+CD4+CD8+ cells at 4 months, whereas the IC pigs had a higher percentage at 5 months (P<0.05). Regarding γδT cells, SC pigs had a lower percentage than E pigs at 4 and 5 months (P<0.05), whereas IC pigs did not differ significantly from E pigs at any age. However, there were no consequences on T-lymphocyte proliferation and total IgG or anti-influenza Ig. At slaughter, relative spleen weight was decreased in IC pigs, whereas pneumonia score was decreased in SC pigs relatively to E pigs. Overall, no clear functional consequences of either method on commercial pig immune abilities were demonstrated, but more investigations are required to ascertain this conclusion.
Testosterone may be a biological factor that protects males against eating disorders. Elevated prenatal testosterone exposure is linked to lower levels of disordered eating symptoms, but effects emerge only after mid-puberty. Whether circulating levels of testosterone account for decreased risk for disordered eating in boys after mid-puberty is currently unknown; however, animal data support this possibility. In rodents, prenatal testosterone's masculinizing effects on sex-differentiated behaviors emerge during puberty when circulating levels of testosterone increase and ‘activate’ the expression of masculinized phenotypes. This study investigated whether higher levels of circulating testosterone predict lower levels of disordered eating symptoms in adolescent boys, and in particular whether effects are associated with advancing pubertal maturation.
Participants were 213 male twins from the Michigan State University Twin Registry. The Minnesota Eating Behavior Survey and Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire assessed several disordered eating symptoms. The Pubertal Development Scale assessed pubertal status. Afternoon saliva samples were assayed for testosterone using enzyme immunoassays.
Consistent with animal data, higher levels of circulating testosterone predicted lower levels of disordered eating symptoms in adolescent boys and effects emerged with advancing puberty. Results were not accounted for by several important covariates, including age, adiposity, or mood/anxiety symptoms.
Findings suggest that elevated circulating testosterone may be protective and underlie decreased risk for eating pathology in males during/after puberty, whereas lower levels of testosterone may increase risk and explain why some, albeit relatively few, males develop eating disorders.
Rearing entire pigs may lead to meat quality and welfare problems in relation to pubertal development. A better knowledge of the sources of variation of pubertal development, behaviour and boar taint is needed before generalizing entire male pigs. From 84 days of age, entire male pigs were reared in groups of 10 either in a conventional (C, 1 m²/animal, slatted floor) or an enriched (E, 2.5 m²/animal, straw bedding, outdoor run) housing during spring or autumn and fed ad libitum (n=10/housing/season). Mounting behaviour was observed for 3 h during the third (M3), fourth (M4) and fifth (M5) months of age. The total number of skin lesions was counted on both sides of the pigs 1 day before the behavioural recordings. The time spent in the outdoor run was also recorded during 3 days per month. The animals were slaughtered at 161±1 days of age (122±9 kg live weight). Blood samples were collected at 89 (M3), 119 (M4) and 152 (M5) days of age and at slaughter for the testosterone and oestradiol measurements. The testes were collected at slaughter, freed from the surrounding tissues and weighed. The fat samples were collected for the androstenone and skatole concentration measurement. Plasma testosterone and oestradiol-17β (oestradiol), fat androstenone and skatole and weight of the testes did not differ between the housing systems. Plasma testosterone (8.3 v. 3.9 nmol/l, P<0.05) and oestradiol (12.0 v. 9.2 pmol/l, P<0.1) at M3, fat skatole (0.124 v. 0.043, P<0.03) and weight of the testes (587 v. 512 g, P<0.05) were higher in the autumn than in the spring trial, suggesting that the pubertal development was accelerated. The number of received mounting behaviours was slightly higher in the autumn (P=0.08) trial and was markedly higher in the E than in the C environment (P<0.003). Skin lesions were more numerous in the C than in the E housing at M4 and M5 and in the spring than in the autumn trial at M3 and M4 (P<0.05). Fat androstenone and the number of performed mounting behaviours were significantly correlated between each other and with numerous indicators of the pubertal development (P<0.05). The number of skin lesions was correlated with plasma testosterone and live weight (P<0.05). Overall, this study suggests the effect of season on sexual development, the effect of the housing system on behaviour, and demonstrates the links between sexual hormones, behaviour and boar taint.
Associations between maternal salivary testosterone at 36 weeks’ gestation with birth weight and infant weight gain through 6 months of age were examined in a group of 49 healthy, pregnant women and their offspring. The diurnal decline of maternal testosterone was conserved in late pregnancy, and levels showed significant day-to-day stability. Elevated maternal morning testosterone level was associated with lower birth weight Z-scores adjusted for gestational age and sex, and greater infant weight gain between birth and 6 months. Although maternal testosterone levels did not differ by fetal sex, relations were sex-specific such that maternal testosterone had a significant impact on weight for male infants; among female infants associations were nonsignificant. Results highlight the opposing influence of maternal androgens during pregnancy on decreased growth in utero and accelerated postnatal weight gain.
Many cues for selection exist in poultry breeding, giving important insights into the future selection of elite progeny. Among these cues, the comb is an important reliable parameter for selection within variety or breed. The development of the comb is associated with hormone levels in the body which affect both productive and reproductive parameters. Comb affects the mating behaviour of birds and may be used as an indicator for selection by examining its impact on performance. Strong selection for increased comb size has been shown not to affect male mortality but is linked to increased female mortality. The production traits of layers have a positive correlation with comb size. The following paper provides a review of the comb as an important ornamental trait, including its morphology, development, use as a selection tool and the effect of comb size on productive and reproductive traits.
We describe here the case of a 45-year-old man with a chronic history of heroin abuse who has received methadone maintenance therapy for 12 years. At admission, on this occasion, for stabilisation on methadone, he reported a two-year history of painful gynaecomastia and testicular atrophy. Investigations revealed abnormal sex hormone levels. Liver function tests, thyroid function tests, Brain (pituitary) MRI and viral screens were normal. Following assessment and abnormality in two morning total testosterone level measurements he was diagnosed with hypogonadism secondary to opioid use. Although he had a previous history of alcohol abuse, he was abstinent from alcohol use for five years at time of assessment. He was commenced on parenteral testosterone replacement with therapeutic benefit.
In light of the increased use of opioids, it is important to recognise and manage the endocrine complications of opioid use. The need for an empathic and adequate sexual history, physical examination and investigation is essential in patients who use opioids to ensure that cases of hormonal dysfunction are detected early and managed appropriately.
This chapter briefly reviews the embryology of the male reproductive system, whose knowledge is required to understand the physiopathology of cryptorchidism and of hypospadias. One distinctive feature of hormone secretion through the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis is that they regulate their own secretion through negative feedback inhibition. Androgens are essential for spermatogenesis, maturation of secondary sexual characteristics, masculine settlement of the bone-muscle apparatus, and libido. Testosterone is the most important circulating androgen in men's blood. Sperm progression in the seminal tract during ejaculation and contractions of the epididymis are supported by oxytocin and guided by sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. Sperm-egg interaction is a specialized process that leads to fertilization. The occurrence of acrosomal exocytosis facilitates sperm penetration through the zona pellucida, and exposure of certain molecules on the sperm equatorial segment that participate in fusion with the oolemma.
The peak in age of onset of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia during puberty and early adulthood suggests a relationship between the expression of psychopathology and the changes in the brain and body that take place during this dynamic maturational period, including a dramatic increase in circulating oestrogens and androgens. This study examined levels of salivary testosterone and oestradiol in adolescents with prepsychotic, prodromal symptoms, as this may mediate risk for psychosis by having an impact on brain development.
In 21 male adolescents with prodromal symptoms and 21 male non-clinical controls levels of testosterone and oestradiol were measured in saliva. Tanner pubertal stage and prodromal symptoms were also assessed.
Levels of testosterone were significantly lower in adolescents with prodromal symptoms as compared with non-clinical controls. No group differences in oestradiol were found. In the total sample, level of testosterone was significantly correlated with age and Tanner pubertal stage.
Our observations are in line with current hypotheses stressing the role of neuroendocrine factors during adolescence in the expression of psychotic symptoms. From a developmental perspective, susceptibility to psychotic disorders increases during adolescence. Our data suggest that testosterone might, in part, mediate this increased vulnerability. Further research is needed to assess the mediating, neural, mechanisms through which testosterone may have an impact on the development of psychotic symptoms. In the search for early risk markers for psychosis, studying neuroendocrine factors might increase our understanding of ‘at-risk’ developmental pathways.
Hyperandrogenism is the most common endocrinopathy seen in women and may result from ovarian or adrenal overproduction of androgens, altered peripheral metabolism and/or end-organ hypersensitivity. The clinical manifestions of hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are frequently very visible and, as a result, produce significant psychological morbidity. The three main naturally occurring steroids responsible for androgen activity are testosterone and the weak androgens dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione. Managing the dermatological signs of hyperandrogenism, which generally present as acne, seborrhoea, hirsutism and female-pattern hair loss in PCOS, is achieved by reducing the circulating levels and effects of androgens. Potential mechanisms by which this may occur include: direct suppression of androgen production, change in androgen binding to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), impairing the peripheral conversion of free testosterone to dihydrotestosterone by inhibiting 5 alpha-reductase type I and inhibiting androgens acting at the site of target tissue.
Testosterone production declines with age in men. The decline is associated with several risk factors and diseases, including obesity and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, diminished muscular, cognitive and sexual function and changes in body composition. Androgen treatment in elderly men has mostly been addressed in small short-term studies, and larger long-term investigations with sufficient statistical power are still needed for a proper evaluation of the benefit-risk-ratio of testosterone treatment. Current data do not support testosterone supplementation in healthy, asymptomatic older men with normal or low-normal testosterone levels. Treatment may be beneficial in older men with clear hypoandrogenic symptoms, especially reduced libido, erectile dysfunction and decreased muscle strength, if testosterone concentration is consistently low, and the patient selection, counselling and follow-up are adequate.