The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 225 - 239 (2013)

Vol 57, Issue 2-3-4

Special Issue: Male Germ Cells in Development & Tumors

Endocrine disruptors, gene deregulation and male germ cell tumors

Published: 30 May 2013

Jesús Del Mazo*,1, Miguel A. Brieño-Enríquez#,1, Jesús García-López#,1, Luis A. López-Fernández2 and Massimo De Felici3

1Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology. Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain, 2Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain and 3Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy


Endocrine disruptors (EDs) belong to a large group of compounds, usually present as environmental pollutants, which can alter the homeostasis of living organisms by modifying hormonal balance and changing the normal patterns of gene regulation during development and cell differentiation. Hence, the development of male gonads and their functionality may be affected by exposure to specific EDs or their mixtures. The molecular mechanisms of action of these reprotoxicants leading to pathologies of the reproductive system such as testicular cancer, are complex and not well characterized. It is likely, however, that these compounds alter the interaction between the mechanisms of gene regulation and functional gene networks in windows of risk, mainly during embryonic development. Moreover, such changes could be transmitted through generations by epigenetic mechanisms. There are examples of the action of EDs on the expression of mRNAs, small non-coding RNAs and epigenetic marks in the developing testis associated with cellular and molecular alterations found in germ cell tumors. In the present review, we will discuss various aspects of genetic, transcriptomic and epigenetic changes related to testicular development, exposure to EDs and the occurrence of germ cell tumors.


testis, tumor, primordial germ cell, miRNA, piRNA, epigenetic, DNA methylation, histone modification

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