Quantification of benzo[a]pyrene and other PAHs in the serum and follicular fluid of smokers versus non-smokers
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Cigarette smoking is a well-established reproductive hazard that has been linked with decreased fertility in both smokers and those exposed to second hand smoke. The chemical components responsible for the reproductive toxic effects of cigarette smoke are unknown. Moreover, exposure of reproductive tissues to the chemical constituents of cigarette smoke is largely unknown. Therefore, we measured the levels of benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) present in cigarette smoke, in the serum and follicular fluid of women exposed to mainstream (n=19) and side stream smoke (n=7) compared to non-smokers (n=10). Women exposed to mainstream smoke had significantly higher levels of B[a]P (1.32+/-0.68ng/ml) in their follicular fluid compared to side stream exposed (0.05+/-0.01ng/ml) or their non-smoking (0.03+/-0.01ng/ml) counterparts. More importantly we found significantly higher (p<0.001) levels of B[a]P in the follicular fluid of women who did not conceive (1.79+/-0.03ng/ml) compared to those that achieved a pregnancy (0.08+/-0.03ng/ml). Other PAHs known to be present in cigarette smoke were also detectable in both serum and follicular fluid of study subjects studied but with lower frequency compared to B[a]P and no differences in serum or follicular fluid levels between the groups could be demonstrated. The important finding that B[a]P reaches the follicular fluid and the fact that it is found at much higher levels in women who smoke provides further evidence that of the many toxicants present in cigarette smoke, B[a]P may be a key compound that is central to the documented adverse effects of cigarette smoke on follicular development and subsequent fertility.
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