Ovarian function in women can be compromised by exposure to toxic environmental factors. Chemicals that affect ovarian function can act through direct effects on hormone action (ovary) or by interference with steroid hormone action (hypothalamus and/or pituitary). These effects can cause problems in the form of infertility. Alternatively, ovarian toxicants can directly cause ovarian failure by extensive follicular destruction. This targeting can result in loss of ovarian steroid hormones, eventual ovarian failure (menopause), and ultimate disruption of neuroendocrine feedback causing increased levels of FSH and LH. This article provides an overview of chemicals that in animal studies have been identified to cause disrupted ovarian function with a focus on the sites of targeting by which these disruptions occur. In predicting the impact of environmental factors on reproductive function in women, it is critical to gain a better appreciation of the physiological consequences resulting from the potential variety of mechanisms by which toxicants can disrupt ovarian function. This article attempts to provide such a perspective within the context of specific chemicals for which ovarian sites of toxicity have been identified.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology