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Biomarkers for Assessing Human Female Reproductive Health, An Interdisciplinary Approach

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Identification of environmental hazards to reproductive health and characterization of the adverse outcomes necessitate a multidisciplinary approach. Epidemiologic studies are required for the identification of adverse health effects in human populations and then to confirm that specific exposures are responsible. Clinical studies are required to develop assays for reproductive biomarkers and to validate these assays prior to their application in the field. Assays for field use must be formatted and streamlined for large-scale applications and, whenever possible, computer algorithms should be developed to interpret biomarker data. Appropriate animal models must be identified, biomarker assays validated for that model, and animal experiments conducted to identify the mode of action and target organ of a putative reproductive toxicant. Finally, in vitro studies at the level of the cell and cell organelle are essential for mechanisms for toxicity to be clearly identified and understood. In this article we describe the interdisciplinary approach that we have developed for study of the effects of environmental agents on female reproductive functions. This effort requires specific skills of toxicologists, epidemiologists, physicians, biochemists, and physiologists.

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