Several studies have shown a dramatic reduction of semen quality in many industrialized countries and infertility is becoming a public health top priority, whose incidence is associated to late-onset adult diseases, especially cancer, shorter life expectancy and trans-generational effects. The male reproductive system is particularly sensitive to a broad variety of reproductive and developmental toxicants, including many environmental pollutants and recent studies suggest that human semen is an early and sensitive environmental and health marker. A set of semen biomarkers is described for reproductive health effects in relation to environmental exposure, where human semen seems to be an early and sensitive source of biomarkers than blood to monitor high environmental pressure on human health. Environmental health should consider reproductive health and development, from intrauterine life to childhood and puberty: these are both vulnerable targets and high-value protection goals, inasmuch as they represent the future of our societies. Hence, biomarkers of reproductive health should be exploited as early signals of environmental pressure and increased risk of adverse chronic health effects so that the use of “human seminal model” might be the main objective to be considered in the agenda of public prevention policies for early detection and innovative programs of health surveillance in environmental risk areas.
Part of the book: Spermatozoa
Many studies suggest a direct relationship between toxic effects and an increase in the p53 protein on cellular DNA. For our studies, we used sperm DNA as an indicator of environmental toxic effects, dosing p53 quantitatively. To assess possible variations, we used semen samples from two homogeneous male groups living permanently in areas with different environmental impact. The toxic effects of the selected high environmental impact area are caused by both soil and air pollution, while the selected low environmental impact area is a nature reserve where there are no landfills, but only rural factories. As we work with reproductive cells, our interest was inevitably focused on sperm DNA damage and whether this damage could affect their fertilizing capacity. The length of telomeres and the quantification of protamines are being studied to better define the possible damage.
Part of the book: p53