New Phthalate Link; DEHP Metabolites and Altered Thyroid Hormone Levels in Men

By Renner, Rebecca | Environmental Health Perspectives, July 2007 | Go to article overview

New Phthalate Link; DEHP Metabolites and Altered Thyroid Hormone Levels in Men


Renner, Rebecca, Environmental Health Perspectives


Human studies have shown widespread exposure to phthalates, compounds used in the manufacture of household, consumer, and medical products. The plasticizer DEHP is one of the most widely used chemicals in this class. A limited number of rat studies have linked DEHP exposure to alterations in thyroid signaling and lower plasma thyroxine ([T.sub.4]) concentrations. Now a study of adult men for the first time shows an association between higher urinary levels of the metabolite MEHP and reduced thyroid hormone in blood serum [EHP 115:1029-1034; Meeker et al.].

Phthalates are metabolized and excreted quickly; these metabolites, rather than the parent diesters, are believed to be the active toxicants. Ingested DEHP is initially hydrolyzed in the intestine to MEHP. The metabolites MEOHP and MEHHP are then produced by the oxidation of MEHP.

The study participants included 408 men between the ages of 18 and 55. All were partners in subfertile couples who visited a Boston fertility center between January 2000 and May 2004. Each man completed a questionnaire and provided urine and blood samples on the same day. Blood samples were analyzed for free [T.sub.4], total triiodothyronine ([T.sub.3]), and thyroid-stimulating hormone. …

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