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Boron-exposed male workers in Turkey: no change in sperm Y:X chromosome ratio and in offspring’s sex ratio

Abstract

Boron-associated shifts in sex ratios at birth were suggested earlier and attributed to a decrease in Y- vs. X-bearing sperm cells. As the matter is pivotal in the discussion of reproductive toxicity of boron/borates, re-investigation in a highly borate-exposed population was required. In the present study, 304 male workers in Bandirma and Bigadic (Turkey) with different degrees of occupational and environmental exposure to boron were investigated. Boron was quantified in blood, urine and semen, and the persons were allocated to exposure groups along B blood levels. In the highest (“extreme”) exposure group (n = 69), calculated mean daily boron exposures, semen boron and blood boron concentrations were 44.91 ± 18.32 mg B/day, 1643.23 ± 965.44 ng B/g semen and 553.83 ± 149.52 ng B/g blood, respectively. Overall, an association between boron exposure and Y:X sperm ratios in semen was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Also, the mean Y:X sperm ratios in semen samples of workers allocated to the different exposure groups were statistically not different in pairwise comparisons (p > 0.05). Additionally, a boron-associated shift in sex ratio at birth towards female offspring was not visible. In essence, the present results do not support an association between boron exposure and decreased Y:X sperm ratio in males, even under extreme boron exposure conditions.

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Acknowledgements

The semen samples used in this study were sampled within the scope of the “Boron Project I” (2008–2010) and the “Boron Project II” (2014–2017). The “Boron Project I” was funded by Eti Mine Works General Management and BOREN (2008-G0207). The “Boron Project II” was funded by Eti Mine Works General Management (2014–2017).

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Correspondence to Yalçın Duydu.

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The project was funded by Eti Mine. Eti Mine had no influence on the conduct of the study and has not influenced the results and interpretation. Thus, the authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Duydu, Y., Başaran, N., Yalçın, C.Ö. et al. Boron-exposed male workers in Turkey: no change in sperm Y:X chromosome ratio and in offspring’s sex ratio. Arch Toxicol 93, 743–751 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00204-019-02391-z

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Keywords

  • Paternal exposure
  • Boron exposure
  • Y:X chromosome ratio
  • Sex ratio at birth