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The Office of the Director provides leadership and management for the Division's three research branches, and help to oversee the translation of research findings generated by Division investigators. The Division provides centralized computing and programming resources for all Division investigators, Intramural Research Training Award Fellows, and students participating in the Summer Intern Program.
The overarching research goal is to understand the impact of stress as measured by two salivary biomarkers on female fecundity and fertility as measured by menstruation, time-to-pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and the secondary sex ratio.
- Women with higher salivary alpha-amylase concentrations, a biomarker of stress via the sympathetic medullar pathway, had a reduced probability of conception (fecundity odds ratio=0.85; 95% confidence interval 0.67, 1.09) after adjusting for the couples' ages, intercourse frequency, and alcohol consumption. Stress significantly reduced the probability of conception each day during the fertile window.
Buck Louis GM, Lum K, Sundaram R, Chen Z, Kim S, Lynch CD, Schisterman EF, Pyper C. Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Fertility and Sterility 2011; 95(7):2184-2189. PMID: 20688324
- Women in the highest quartile of salivary cortisol relative to women in the lowest had reduced odds of having a male birth. Our findings suggest that stress may reverse the 2° sex ratio. Chason R, Chen Z, Buck Louis GM, Segars JH, Pyper C. Preconception stress and the secondary stress level. Fertility and Sterility 2012;98(4):937-941. PMID: 22884014
The overarching research goal of the LIFE Study is to understand the relation between environmental (non-genetic) exposures and couple fecundity in the context of lifestyle factors important for human fecundity and fertility.
- Preconception blood concentrations of heavy metals were significantly associated with reduced couple fecundity as measured by a longer time required for couples to become pregnant. Female partners' blood cadmium concentrations reduced fecundity as measured by fecundability odds ratios <1 (FOR=0.78; 95% CI 0.63, 0.97), as did male partners' blood lead concentrations (FOR=0.85; 95% CI 0.73, 0.98). When jointly modeling couples' metal exposures, only male lead concentration significantly reduced the FOR (0.82; 95% CI 0.68, 0.97), though the FOR remained <1 for female cadmium (0.80; 95% CI 0.64, 1.00). This prospective couple based cohort with longitudinal capture of time to pregnancy is suggestive of cadmium and lead's reproductive toxicity at environmentally relevant concentrations.
Buck Louis, Sundaram R, Schisterman EF, Sweeney AM, Lynch CD, Gore-Langton RE, Chen Z, Kim S, Caldwell K, Boyd Barr D. Heavy metals and couple fecundity, the LIFE Study. Chemosphere 2012; 87:1201-1207. PMID: 22309709
- Select persistent environmental chemicals were associated with reduced fecundability as measured by requiring a longer time to pregnancy. Chemicals associated with reduced fecundity included: PCB congeners 118, 167, 209, and perfluorooctane sulfonamide in females; and p,p´-DDE and PCB congeners 138, 156, 157, 167, 170, 172, and 209 in males. In this unique cohort of couples enrolled prior to conception and followed for up to 12 months of trying to conceive, a subset of persistent environmental chemicals were associated with reduced fecundity.
Buck Louis GM, Sundaram R, Schisterman EF, Sweeney AM, Lynch CD, Gore-Langton RE, Maisog J, Kim S, Chen Z, Barr DB. Persistent environmental pollutants and couple fecundity, The LIFE Study. Environmental Health Perspectives 2013; 121(2):231-236. PMID:23151773
The overarching research goal of the ENDO Study is to understand the relation between environmental influences and female fecundity, as measured by gynecologic health and diseases such as endometriosis and fibroids.
- Two persistent organochlorine environmental pesticides were associated with an increased odds of an endometriosis diagnosis. Specifically in the operative cohort, ?-hexachlorocyclohexane (?-HCH) was positively associated with endometriosis (per 1-SD increase in log-transformed ?-HCH: adjusted OR (AOR) = 1.27; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.59), while ß-HCH was the only significant predictor in the population cohort (per 1-SD increase in log-transformed ß-HCH: AOR = 1.72; 95% CI: 1.09, 2.72). These findings are consistent with other persistent environmental and hormonally active chemicals being associated with an endometriosis diagnosis.
Buck Louis GM, Chen Z, Peterson CM, Hediger ML, Croughan MS, Sundaram R, Stanford JB, Varner MW, Fujimoto VY, Giudice LC, Trumble A, Parsons PJ, Kannan K. Persistent lipophilic environmental chemicals and endometriosis: The ENDO Study, 2007-2009. Environmental Health Perspectives 2012; 120(6):811-816. PMID: 22417635
- The relation between UV filters (sunscreen components) measured in urine and the odds of an endometriosis diagnosis were assessed for five BP derivatives: 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone (2OH-4MeO-BP), 2,4-ihydroxybenzophenone (2,4OH-BP), 2,2'-dihydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone (2,2'OH-4MeO-BP), 2,2',4,4'-tetrahydroxybenzophenone (2,2',4,4'OH-BP), and 4-hydroxybenzophenone (4OH-BP). The only significant association was observed for 2,4OH-BP and the odds of an endometriosis diagnosis in the operative cohort (OR = 1.19; 95% CI = 1.01, 1.41). The findings await corroboration, given this first reported study focusing on BP filters and endometriosis. The estrogenic properties of 2,4OH-BP in relation to development of endometriosis await mechanistic research.
Kunisue T, Chen Z, Buck Louis GM, Sundaram R, Hediger ML, Sun L, Kannan K. Urinary concentrations of benzophenone-type UV filters and endometriosis, the ENDO Study. Environmental Science and Technology 2012; 46:4624-4632. PMID: 22417702
- In the population cohort, six phthalate metabolites-mono-n-butyl phthalate, mono-[(2-carboxymethyl) hexyl] phthalate, mono (2-ethyl-5-carboxyphentyl) phthalate, mono (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, mono (2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate, and mono (2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate-were significantly associated with an approximately twofold increase in the odds of an endometriosis diagnosis. Two phthalates were associated with endometriosis in the operative cohort and only after restricting endometriosis to visualized and histologic disease (monooctyl phthalate; OR 1.38; 95% CI 1.10-1.72) or when restricting comparison women to those with a postoperative diagnosis of a normal pelvis [mono (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate; OR 1.35; 95% CI 1.03-1.78]. Select phthalates were associated with higher odds of an endometriosis diagnosis for women in the population cohort with magnetic resonance imaging-diagnosed endometriosis. The lack of consistency of findings across cohorts underscores the impact of methodology on findings.
Buck Louis GM, Peterson CM, Chen Z, Croughan M, Sundaram R, Stanford J, Varner J, Kennedy A, Giudice L, Fujimoto V, Sun L, Wang L, Guo Y, Kannan K. Bisphenol A and phthalates and endometriosis, The LIFE Study. Fertility and Sterility 2013;100(1):162-169.e2. PMID: 23579005