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Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 70, No. 9, pp. 1633-1646, 1998

    Natural and anthropogenic environmental oestrogens:
    the scientific basis for risk assessment

    Comparative physiology of the reproductive endocrine system in laboratory rodents and humans

    A. N. Brooks

    Zeneca Central Toxicology Laboratory, Alderley Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 4TJ, UK.
    E-mail: [email protected]

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 the chapter.

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