The effects of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) on mammalian ovarian function
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Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) are a broad class of contaminants ubiquitously present in the environment due to natural and anthropogenic activities. With increasing industrialization and reliance on petroleum worldwide, PACs are increasingly being detected in different environmental compartments. Previous studies have shown that PACs possess endocrine disruptive properties as these compounds often interfere with hormone signaling and function. In females, the ovary is largely responsible for regulating reproductive and endocrine function and thus, serves as a primary target for PAC-mediated toxicity. Perturbations in the signaling pathways that mediate ovarian folliculogenesis, steroidogenesis and angiogenesis can lead to adverse reproductive outcomes including polycystic ovary syndrome, premature ovarian insufficiency, and infertility. To date, the impact of PACs on ovarian function has focused predominantly on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons like benzo(a)pyrene, 3-methylcholanthrene and 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene. However, investigation into the impact of substituted PACs including halogenated, heterocyclic, and alkylated PACs on mammalian reproduction has been largely overlooked despite the fact that these compounds are found in higher abundance in free-ranging wildlife. This review aims to discuss current literature on the effects of PACs on the ovary in mammals, with a particular focus on folliculogenesis, steroidogenesis and angiogenesis, which are key processes necessary for proper ovarian functions.