Lead is a male reproductive toxicant. Lead exposure results in a general suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular (HPT) axis in male rats. The mechanism(s) for this disruption by lead is unknown. Toxic lead levels seem to disrupt central nervous system (CNS) control of the HPT system, resulting in a decrease in serum testosterone levels and sperm concentrations. A study designed to elucidate the mechanisms accounting for the disruption of the normal function of the male axis by toxic lead levels at the molecular level demonstrated a 2-3-fold enhancement of mRNA levels of GnRH and the tropic hormone LH. A 3-fold increase of intracellular stores of LH was also found. Because mRNA levels of LH and GnRH and pituitary levels of stored LH are proportional to blood levels of lead, we hypothesize that lead interferes with the normal release of tropic hormones and disrupts hormonal feedback mechanisms. The observed pleiotropic effects of lead upon the male axis and other systems may be explained by simple and unique competition by lead with normal metal ion binding sites that govern genetic control of specific genes.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Biology of Reproduction|
|State||Published - 1994|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology
- Developmental Biology