Endocrine disruptors and human reproductive failure: the in vitro effect of phthalates on human luteal cells


      To evaluate the influence of phthalates on human luteal cell function.


      Laboratory study.


      University hospital.


      Twenty-three normally menstruating patients in the midluteal phase.


      Human luteal cells isolated from corpora lutea for primary cultures.

      Main Outcome Measure(s)

      Progesterone (P4) and prostaglandin release assayed by enzyme immunoassay, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and VEGF mRNA expression by real-time polymerase chain reaction.


      We investigated the effect of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), and butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) on basal and hCG-induced progesterone (P4) release, as well as DEHP effect on the balance between prostaglandin (PG) E2, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-luteotrophic factors, and the luteolitic PGF2α in isolated human steroidogenc cells. Phthalates influence on VEGF expression has been also evaluated. DEHP, DBP, and BBP were able to reduce both basal and hCG-stimulated P4 as well as PGE2 release. PGF2α release was reduced after DEHP incubation. VEGF protein release was decreased by the incubation with the tested phthalates. VEGF mRNA expression was not affected by DEHP, DBP, and BBP. As expected, both hCG and cobalt chloride were able to induce P4 release and VEGF release and mRNA expression in human luteal cells respectively.


      The results show the ability of phthalates to affect luteal steroidogenesis as well as the balance between luteotrophic and luteolytic factors suggesting an interference of phthalates in human luteal function. These data may contribute to clarify the classically known impaired reproductive health observed after phthalates exposure.

      Key Words

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