Fetal origin of endocrine dysfunction in the adult: The phthalate model

D. B. Martinez-Arguelles, E. Campioli, M. Culty, B. R. Zirkin, V. Papadopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a plasticizer with endocrine disrupting properties that is found ubiquitously in the environment as well as in human amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, human milk, semen, and saliva. It is used in the industry to add flexibility to polyvinyl chloride-derived plastics and its wide spread use and presence has resulted in constant human exposure through fetal development and postnatal life. Epidemiological studies have suggested an association between phthalate exposures and human reproductive effects in infant and adult populations. The effects of fetal exposure to phthalates on the male reproductive system were unequivocally shown on animal models, principally rodents, in which short term deleterious reproductive effects are well established. By contrast, information on the long term effects of DEHP in utero exposure on gonadal function are scarce, while its potential effects on other organs are just starting to emerge. The present review focuses on these novel findings, which suggest that DEHP exerts more complex and broader disruptive effects on the endocrine system and metabolism than previously thought. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "CSR 2013".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - 2013


  • Endocrine disruptor
  • Environment
  • Phthalate
  • Sex-differences
  • Steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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