Agroecology 5 min

Glyphosate disrupts animal and human reproductive functions

A review highlights the mechanisms of action of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides on male and female fertility in model animals and humans.

Published on 10 March 2022

illustration Glyphosate disrupts animal and human reproductive functions

This article, published on Thursday 10 March, does not refer to new results obtained at INRAE. It is a bibliographic review of existing scientific publications on the same subject.

Glyphosate (G), also known as N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine is the declared active ingredient of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) such as Roundup largely used in conventional agriculture. It is always used mixed with formulants. G acts in particular on the shikimate pathway, which exists in bacteria, for aromatic amino acids synthesis, but this pathway does not exist in vertebrates. In recent decades, researchers have shown by using various animal models that GBHs are endocrine disruptors that might alter reproductive functions.

This review describes the effects of exposure to G or GBHs on the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal (HPG) axis in males and females in terms of endocrine disruption, cell viability, and proliferation. Most of the main regulators of the reproductive axis (GPR54, GnRH, LH, FSH, estradiol, testosterone) are altered at all levels of the HPG axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries, testis, placenta, uterus) by exposure to GBHs which are considered more toxic than G alone due to the presence of formulants such as polyoxyethylene tallow amine (POEA). In addition, we report intergenerational impacts of exposure to G or GBHs and, finally, we discuss different strategies to reduce the negative effects of GBHs on fertility.


Joëlle Dupont Scientific contactUnité Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements



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