Introduction: Damage caused by xenobiotic compounds to the ovaries is a subject of concern because of their critical role in reproduction. Female mammals are born with a finite number of germ cells (oocytes) encased in primordial follicles. Xenobiotic-induced damage to primordial follicles can result in early ovarian failure (premature menopause). Alternatively, damage affecting larger growing follicles can prevent ovulation, thereby causing infertility during childbearing years. Areas covered: This review summarizes information from animal studies and human observations about xenobiotic compound classes known to target the ovary to potentially cause reversible infertility (amenorrhea) as well as early ovarian failure. Toxicological evidence supporting ovotoxicity mechanisms from some of these compounds is presented. The reader will gain an appreciation of how exposures to certain widespread environmental chemicals are of concern as regards impacting a woman's reproductive capabilities and life span. Expert opinion: Three emerging areas of mechanistic targeting of the ovary by these chemicals are identified. These areas relate to the type of cell death, effects on follicular development and the importance of ovarian metabolism. In each case, the potential translational relevance of these areas to toxicological as well as physiological insight is highlighted. A recommendation to expand upon these three areas is made.
- Ovarian follicles
ASJC Scopus subject areas