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Assessing the Human Health Risks of Trichloroethylene: Key Scientific Issues
or permanent is unclear. The mode of action is unclear and might or might not relate to hormonal alterations. Critical work by Berger and Horner (2003) demonstrated that trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene are not only male reproductive toxicants but also female reproductive toxicants in rats. Evidence for this finding included decreased sperm penetration and decreased fertilizability of oocytes from trichloroethylene- and tetrachloroethylene-treated females and reduced sperm plasma membrane protein binding to oocytes from trichloroethylene-treated females. Metabolic activation by CYP2E1 appears necessary for toxicity; however, which of the oxidative downstream metabolites is the proximate toxicant is not yet clear. The relevance of these trichloroethylene effects on male and female reproduction in animals to adverse reproductive outcomes in humans also is not clear.
More research is needed to better understand the effects of trichloroethylene on sperm and oocytes and possible consequences for reproduction. Mechanistic studies are needed to determine what metabolites are responsible for the effects.