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atrazine; endocrine disrupting chemical; hormones; hypothalamus-pituitarygonadal axis; reproductive dysfunction


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) are exogenous agents that alter endogenous hormone signaling pathways. These chemicals target the neuroendocrine system which is composed of organs throughout the body that work alongside the central nervous system to regulate biological processes. Of primary importance is the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis which is vital for maintaining proper reproductive function. Atrazine (2-chloro-4-ethylamino-6-isopropylamino-1,3,5-triazine) is a pre-emergent herbicide used to prevent the growth of weeds on various crops. This herbicide is reported to widely contaminate potable water supplies everywhere it is applied. As such, the European Union banned the use of atrazine in 2004. Currently the United States Environmental Protection Agency regulates atrazine at 3 parts per billion (ppb; μg/L) in drinking water, while the World Health Organization recently changed their drinking water guideline to 100 ppb. Atrazine is implicated to be an EDC that alters reproductive dysfunction by targeting the HPG axis. However, questions remain as to the human health risks associated with atrazine exposure with studies reporting mixed results on the ability of atrazine to alter the HPG axis. In this review, the current findings for atrazine’s effects on the HPG axis are examined in mammalian, anuran, and fish models and in epidemiological studies.


This is the publisher PDF of Wirbisky, S.E.; Freeman, J.L. Atrazine Exposure and Reproductive Dysfunction through the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG) Axis. Toxics 2015, 3, 414-450. It is made available here CC-BY and is available at DOI 10.3390/toxics3040414.