A study showed that exposure to small particles of air pollution can reduce sperm production.
The findings published on Sunday and presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in New Orleans showed that exposure to particles with diameters of 2.5 micrometres or less (PM2.5) could cause changes in genetic levels. Linked to the function of cell cells in mice.
"Infertility rates are increasing worldwide and air pollution can be one of the main factors," said study chief researcher, Elaine Maria Frade Costa, of Sao Paulo University.
The researchers analyzed the mice and their production of sperm, and found that the tubes in the testicles that produced sperm from all the open mice showed signs of deterioration.
Compared to mice not exposed to PM2.5, the sperm of those exposed before and after birth was much worse. According to the study, exposure to PM2.5 after birth appeared to be the most harmful for the testicular function.
The researchers said that these changes are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence but by epigenetic changes. Epigenetic changes can stimulate or deactivate genes and decide which proteins a gene expresses.
The study shows for the first time that exposure to air pollution from a large city could affect sperm production through epigenetics.