We evaluated the effects of an environmentally relevant mixture of more than 15 organochlorines on the development of pig oocytes and sperm during in vitro fertilization (IVF). Oocytes were cocultured with sperm in IVF medium containing increasing concentrations of an organochlorine mixture, similar to that found in women of highly exposed populations. Exposure to the organochlorine mixture diminished oocyte penetration rates and polyspermy in a linear manner. The mixture did not affect rates of cleavage nor development to multicell embryos. However, rates of development to the blastocyst stage were lower at the highest concentration at which oocyte penetration was observed. The same experiment was performed using oocytes that were preexposed during in vitro maturation. This greater exposure to the mixture also reduced penetration in a dose-response manner and affected polyspermy. Frozen-thawed pig sperm were also cultured in IVF medium containing the same organochlorine concentrations. Sperm motility parameters were immediately reduced in a dose-dependant manner by the organochlorines, followed by diminished viability 2 h later. From these results, it appears that reduced sperm quality would account for decreases in fertilization, polyspermy, and blastocyst formation. These results suggest that exposing porcine oocytes and sperm to an environmentally pertinent organochlorine mixture in vitro disrupts the oocyte block to polyspermy, sperm fertility, and further embryonic development, and supports recent concerns that such pollutants harm reproductive health in humans and other species.
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