Intrauterine exposure to diesel exhaust diminishes adult ovarian reserve

Intrauterine exposure to acceptable levels of diesel exhaust diminishes ovarian reserve of sexually mature mice. The authors recommend more careful examination of the environmental guidelines in humans.


Karolyn Sassi Ogliari, M.D., Ph.D., Ana Julia de Faria Coimbra Lichtenfels, Ph.D., Mary Rosa Rodrigues de Marchi, Ph.D., Alice Teixeira Ferreira, M.D., Ph.D., Marisa Dolhnikoff, M.D., Ph.D., Paulo Hilario Nascimento Saldiva, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 6, Pages 1681-1688.e2, May 2013



To analyze ovarian and uterine morphological changes resulting from intrauterine and postnatal exposure to diesel exhaust.


Crossover study. Experimental groups: intrauterine and postnatal clean air exposure; intrauterine exposure to diesel only; postnatal exposure to diesel only; and intrauterine and postnatal exposure to diesel.


Laboratory of Experimental Air Pollution.


Swiss mice.


Mice exposed to diesel exhaust with doses that correspond to the daily average PM2.5 levels (fine particles in the ambient air 2.5 ╬╝m or less in size) reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Main Outcome Measures:

Morphometric analyses of the ovaries and uterus were performed to define the relative area occupied by follicles, corpus luteum and stroma and the proportionate area of glands, epithelial layer and stroma within the uterine endometrium.


A significant reduction in the proportion of primordial follicles was observed in intra-uterine exposed animals, those exposed during the postnatal period and in animals exposed during both phases. Primary follicle proportion was reduced in animals exposed during pregnancy. No significant changes were detected in uterine morphology.


Intrauterine exposure to acceptable levels of diesel exhaust compromises the reproductive potential of female mice, diminishing ovarian reserve when sexual maturity is achieved. This effect could increase the risk of premature menopause. The findings raise concern about current environmental guidelines for diesel exposure warranting more careful examination of this issue in humans by regulatory authorities.

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