The longstanding focus of my research program is to decipher the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which exposure to certain environmental agents (e.g., phthalate acid ester-based plasticizers) or clinical chemotherapeutic drugs (e.g., cisplatin) can result in disruption of male reproduction. Specifically, the unifying theme of the research conducted in my laboratory is targeted at understanding the paracrine cellular signaling mechanisms between the Sertoli cells and germ cells in the testis that regulate the death (and/or survival) of germ cells by the process of apoptosis.
Recent experimental findings in my laboratory have implicated the cells of the innate immune system in the exacerbation of phthalate-induced injury to the testis. Interestingly, the infiltration of these immune cells may account, in part, for the long recognized differences in the age- and species-dependent sensitivity to MEHP-induced testicular injury and germ cell loss. The inappropriate loss of testicular germ cells via apoptosis during various developmental periods of life could ultimately lead to clinical male infertility in adulthood. It is anticipated that the mechanistic insights garnered from our research will be useful for predicting and preventing human reproductive health risks to chemicals found in the environment.
John H. Richburg, Ph.D.
Male Fertility: Richburg Lab Research in the News
Dr. Richburg speaks with KXAN News about his research in how male fertility can be affected by environmental toxins found in everyday plastic products, and by chemotherapy in the treatment of testicular cancer.