Multiple metals predict prolactin and thyrotropin (TSH) levels in men

John D. Meeker, Mary G. Rossano, Bridget Protas, Michael P. Diamond, Elizabeth Puscheck, Douglas Daly, Nigel Paneth, Julia J. Wirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Exposure to a number of metals can affect neuroendocrine and thyroid signaling, which can result in adverse effects on development, behavior, metabolism, reproduction, and other functions. The present study assessed the relationship between metal concentrations in blood and serum prolactin (PRL) and thyrotropin (TSH) levels, markers of dopaminergic, and thyroid function, respectively, among men participating in a study of environmental influences on male reproductive health. Blood samples from 219 men were analyzed for concentrations of 11 metals and serum levels of PRL and TSH. In multiple linear regression models adjusted for age, BMI and smoking, PRL was inversely associated with arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc, but positively associated with chromium. Several of these associations (Cd, Pb, Mo) are consistent with limited studies in humans or animals, and a number of the relationships (Cr, Cu, Pb, Mo) remained when additionally considering multiple metals in the model. Lead and copper were associated with non-monotonic decrease in TSH, while arsenic was associated with a dose-dependent increase in TSH. For arsenic these findings were consistent with recent experimental studies where arsenic inhibited enzymes involved in thyroid hormone synthesis and signaling. More research is needed for a better understanding of the role of metals in neuroendocrine and thyroid function and related health implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-873
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant ES11856 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH). JDM supported by a Young Clinical Scientist Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.


  • Endocrine
  • Epidemiology
  • Exposure
  • Human
  • Male

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science (all)


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