In industrialized countries, the use of Cadmium (Cd) produces a form of anthropogenic pollution. Hence, exposure by human populations is becoming a public health problem. With a half-life of up to 40 years, cadmium is now a topic of great interest due to its role as an endocrine disruptor and its effects on male reproduction. Cd’s diverse toxic mechanisms are based on its capacity to mimic divalent ions -calcium, zinc, iron- that participate in physiological processes. It alters the mitochondrial function and generates the production of free radicals that can induce apoptosis. In male reproduction, Cd alters the precise coordination of the hypothalamic-hypophysis-testis axis (HHT), resulting in the loss of testicular functions like steroidogenesis, spermatogenesis and the onset of puberty, sexual maturity, sexual behavior and fertility. Exposure to Cd may even cause changes in the immune system that are associated with the reproductive system. This review analyses the state of the question regarding Cd’s cellular and physiological mechanisms and the effects of this heavy metal on the neuroendocrine regulation of male reproduction.
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