Pure Appl. Chem., Vol.
70, No. 9, pp. 1633-1646,
A. N. Brooks
Zeneca Central Toxicology Laboratory, Alderley
Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 4TJ, UK.
Introduction: Many aspects of reproduction
are controlled by hormones, which serve as chemical messengers linking
together the various reproductive organs to form an integrated and precisely
regulated homeostatic system. Any disruption of this balanced system
can lead to inappropriate development, maintenance and function of reproductive
activity, resulting in some cases in mild or severe infertility. It
is therefore of little surprise that there should be such concern over
the potential for chemicals to have adverse reproductive health effects
by acting as endocrine disrupters. This chapter will begin with an overview
of the basic components and function of the reproductive system and
will be followed by a more detailed consideration of the endocrine control
of male and female reproductive processes. It is intended that this
chapter will provide a broad understanding of how the reproductive endocrine
system functions, in order to understand some of the potential mechanisms
by which endocrine disrupters might have their effects. Key species
differences will be highlighted for humans and laboratory animals throughout
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