Human semen quality is declining in many parts of the world, but the causes are ill defined. In rodents, impaired sperm production can be seen with early life exposure to certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, but the effects of combined exposures are not properly investigated. In this study, we examined the effects of early exposure to the painkiller paracetamol and mixtures of human relevant endocrine-disrupting chemicals in rats. One mixture contained four estrogenic compounds; another contained eight anti-androgenic environmental chemicals and a third mixture contained estrogens, anti-androgens and paracetamol. All exposures were administered by oral gavage to time-mated Wistar dams rats (n = 16–20) throughout gestation and lactation. In the postnatal period, testicular histology was affected by the total mixture, and at the end of weaning, male testis weights were significantly increased by paracetamol and the high doses of the total and the anti-androgenic mixture, compared to controls. In all dose groups, epididymal sperm counts were reduced several months after end of exposure, i.e. at 10 months of age. Interestingly, the same pattern of effects was seen for paracetamol as for mixtures with diverse modes of action. Reduced sperm count was seen at a dose level reflecting human therapeutic exposure to paracetamol. Environmental chemical mixtures affected sperm count at the lowest mixture dose indicating an insufficient margin of safety for the most exposed humans. This causes concern for exposure of pregnant women to paracetamol as well as environmental endocrine disrupters.
M Axelstad, U Hass, M Scholze, S Christiansen, A Kortenkamp and J Boberg
Maurício Martins da Silva, Lueni Lopes Felix Xavier, Carlos Frederico Lima Gonçalves, Ana Paula Santos-Silva, Francisca Diana Paiva-Melo, Mariana Lopes de Freitas, Rodrigo Soares Fortunato, Leandro Miranda-Alves and Andrea Claudia Freitas Ferreira
Bisphenol A (BPA) is the most common monomer in polycarbonate plastics and an endocrine disruptor. Though some effects of BPA on thyroid hormone (TH) synthesis and action have been described, the impact of this compound on thyroid H2O2 generation remains elusive. H2O2 is a reactive oxygen species (ROS), which could have deleterious effect on thyrocytes if in excess. Therefore, herein we aimed at evaluating the effect of BPA exposition both in vivo and in vitro on H2O2 generation in thyrocytes, besides other essential steps for TH synthesis. Female Wistar rats were treated with vehicle (control) or BPA 40 mg/kg BW for 15 days, by gavage. We then evaluated thyroid iodide uptake, mediated by sodium-iodide symporter (NIS), thyroperoxidase (TPO) and dual oxidase (DOUX) activities (H2O2 generation). Hydrogen peroxide generation was increased, while iodide uptake and TPO activity were reduced by BPA exposition. We have also incubated the rat thyroid cell line PCCL3 with 10−9 M BPA and evaluated Nis and Duox mRNA levels, besides H2O2 generation. Similar to that found in vivo, BPA treatment also led to increased H2O2 generation in PCCL3. Nis mRNA levels were reduced and Duox2 mRNA levels were increased in BPA-exposed cells. To evaluate the importance of oxidative stress on BPA-induced Nis reduction, PCCL3 was treated with BPA in association to N-acetylcysteine, an antioxidant, which reversed the effect of BPA on Nis. Our data suggest that BPA increases ROS production in thyrocytes, what could lead to oxidative damage thus possibly predisposing to thyroid disease.
Bilal B Mughal, Jean-Baptiste Fini and Barbara A Demeneix
This review covers recent findings on the main categories of thyroid hormone–disrupting chemicals and their effects on brain development. We draw mostly on epidemiological and experimental data published in the last decade. For each chemical class considered, we deal with not only the thyroid hormone–disrupting effects but also briefly mention the main mechanisms by which the same chemicals could modify estrogen and/or androgen signalling, thereby exacerbating adverse effects on endocrine-dependent developmental programmes. Further, we emphasize recent data showing how maternal thyroid hormone signalling during early pregnancy affects not only offspring IQ, but also neurodevelopmental disease risk. These recent findings add to established knowledge on the crucial importance of iodine and thyroid hormone for optimal brain development. We propose that prenatal exposure to mixtures of thyroid hormone–disrupting chemicals provides a plausible biological mechanism contributing to current increases in the incidence of neurodevelopmental disease and IQ loss.
Kylie D Rock, Brian Horman, Allison L Phillips, Susan L McRitchie, Scott Watson, Jocelin Deese-Spruill, Dereje Jima, Susan Sumner, Heather M Stapleton and Heather B Patisaul
Firemaster 550 (FM 550) is a flame retardant (FR) mixture that has become one of the most commonly used FRs in foam-based furniture and baby products. Human exposure to this commercial mixture, composed of brominated and organophosphate components, is widespread. We have repeatedly shown that developmental exposure can lead to sex-specific behavioral effects in rats. Accruing evidence of endocrine disruption and potential neurotoxicity has raised concerns regarding the neurodevelopmental effects of FM 550 exposure, but the specific mechanisms of action remains unclear. Additionally, we observed significant, and in some cases sex-specific, accumulation of FM 550 in placental tissue following gestational exposure. Because the placenta is an important source of hormones and neurotransmitters for the developing brain, it may be a critical target of toxicity to consider in the context of developmental neurotoxicity. Using a mixture of targeted and exploratory approaches, the goal of the present study was to identify possible mechanisms of action in the developing forebrain and placenta. Wistar rat dams were orally exposed to FM 550 (0, 300 or 1000 µg/day) for 10 days during gestation and placenta and fetal forebrain tissue collected for analysis. In placenta, evidence of endocrine, inflammatory and neurotransmitter signaling pathway disruption was identified. Notably, 5-HT turnover was reduced in placental tissue and fetal forebrains indicating that 5-HT signaling between the placenta and the embryonic brain may be disrupted. These findings demonstrate that environmental contaminants, like FM 550, have the potential to impact the developing brain by disrupting normal placental functions.
Jana Ernst, Urszula Grabiec, Kathrin Falk, Faramarz Dehghani and Kristina Schaedlich
Studies of the last decade associated the environmental contamination by di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) with obesity and endocrine malfunction. DEHP was found to interact with several receptors – among them are receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) with high expression levels in adipose tissue. Furthermore, the correlation for BMI and body fat to the serum endocannabinoid level raises the question if the obesogenic and endocrine-disrupting DEHP effects are mediated via the ECS. We therefore characterized the ECS in a human cell model of adipogenesis using the SGBS preadipocytes to subsequently investigate if DEHP exposure affects the intrinsic ECS. The receptors of the ECS and the endocannabinoid-metabolizing enzymes were upregulated during normal adipogenesis, accompanied by an increasing secretion of the adipokines adiponectin and leptin. DEHP affected the secretion of both adipokines but not the ECS, suggesting DEHP to alter the endocrine function of adipocytes without the involvement of the intrinsic ECS.
André Marques-Pinto and Davide Carvalho
Over recent decades, epidemiological studies have been reporting worrisome trends in the incidence of human infertility rates. Extensive detection of industrial chemicals in human serum, seminal plasma and follicular fluid has led the scientific community to hypothesise that these compounds may disrupt hormonal homoeostasis, leading to a vast array of physiological impairments. Numerous synthetic and natural substances have endocrine-disruptive effects, acting through several mechanisms. The main route of exposure to these chemicals is the ingestion of contaminated food and water. They may disturb intrauterine development, resulting in irreversible effects and may also induce transgenerational effects. This review aims to summarise the major scientific developments on the topic of human infertility associated with exposure to endocrine disruptors (EDs), integrating epidemiological and experimental evidence. Current data suggest that environmental levels of EDs may affect the development and functioning of the reproductive system in both sexes, particularly in foetuses, causing developmental and reproductive disorders, including infertility. EDs may be blamed for the rising incidence of human reproductive disorders. This constitutes a serious public health issue that should not be overlooked. The exposure of pregnant women and infants to EDs is of great concern. Therefore, precautionary avoidance of exposure to EDs is a prudent attitude in order to protect humans and wildlife from permanent harmful effects on fertility.
Shane M Regnier, Andrew G Kirkley, Daniel Ruiz, Wakanene Kamau, Qian Wu, Kurunthachalam Kannan and Robert M Sargis
Emerging evidence implicates environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes; however, the interactions between EDCs and traditional risk factors in disease pathogenesis remain incompletely characterized. The present study interrogates the interaction of the EDC tolylfluanid (TF) and traditional dietary stressors in the promotion of metabolic dysfunction. Eight-week-old male C57BL/6 mice were fed a high-fat, high-sucrose diet (HFHSD) or a high-sucrose diet (HSD), with or without TF supplementation at 100 μg/g, for 12 weeks. Food intake, body weight and visceral adiposity were quantified. Glucose homeostasis was interrogated by intraperitoneal glucose and insulin tolerance tests at 9 and 10 weeks of exposure, respectively. After 12 weeks of dietary exposure, metabolic cage analyses were performed to interrogate nutrient handling and energy expenditure. In the background of an HFHSD, TF promoted glucose intolerance; however, weight gain and insulin sensitivity were unchanged, and visceral adiposity was reduced. In the background of an HSD, TF increased visceral adiposity; however, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity were unchanged, while weight gain was reduced. Thus, these analyses reveal that the metabolic perturbations induced by dietary exposure to TF, including the directionality of alterations in body weight gain, visceral adiposity and glucose homeostasis, are influenced by dietary macronutrient composition, suggesting that populations may exhibit distinct metabolic risks based on their unique dietary characteristics.
M Krause, H Frederiksen, K Sundberg, F S Jørgensen, L N Jensen, P Nørgaard, C Jørgensen, P Ertberg, J H Petersen, U Feldt-Rasmussen, A Juul, K T Drzewiecki, N E Skakkebaek and A M Andersson
Several chemical UV filters/absorbers ('UV filters' hereafter) have endocrine-disrupting properties in vitro and in vivo. Exposure to these chemicals, especially during prenatal development, is of concern.
To examine maternal exposure to UV filters, associations with maternal thyroid hormone, with growth factor concentrations as well as to birth outcomes.
Prospective study of 183 pregnant women with 2nd trimester serum and urine samples available. Maternal concentrations of the chemical UV filters benzophenone-1 (BP-1) and benzophenone-3 (BP-3) in urine and 4-hydroxy-benzophenone (4-HBP) in serum were measured by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS). The relationships between 2nd trimester maternal concentrations of the three chemical UV filters and maternal serum concentrations of thyroid hormones and growth factors, as well as birth outcomes (weight, height, and head and abdominal circumferences) were examined.
Positive associations between maternal serum concentrations of 4-HBP and triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and its binding protein IGFBP3 were observed in mothers carrying male fetuses. Male infants of mothers in the middle 4-HBP exposure group had statistically significantly lower weight and shorter head and abdominal circumferences at birth compared to the low exposure group.
Widespread exposure of pregnant women to chemical UV filters and the possible impact on maternal thyroid hormones and growth factors, and on fetal growth, calls for further studies on possible long-term consequences of the exposure to UV filters on fetal development and children’s health.
Nassim Ghaffari-Tabrizi-Wizsy, Christina Angelika Passegger, Laura Nebel, Fabian Krismer, Gudrun Herzer-Schneidhofer, Gert Schwach and Roswitha Pfragner
Preclinical trials of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) therapeutics require both in vitro and in vivo analyses. Human tumour xenografted rodent models, which are considered the ‘gold standard’ to study and validate the efficacy and toxicity of lead compounds before translation to clinical trials, are very expensive, subject to organismal variability and ethical controversies. The avian chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay provides an alternative versatile, cost-effective and ethically less objectionable short-term, in vivo model for reliable screening of drugs. In this work, we grafted two MTC cell lines and patient-derived MTC tumour samples onto the avian CAM and characterised the resulted tumours histologically and immunohistochemically. Our findings provide the evidence that the CAM assay is a suitable model for studying the pathophysiology of MTC and can even be used as in vivo system for drug testing.
Maria Cristina De Martino, Richard A Feelders, Claudia Pivonello, Chiara Simeoli, Fortuna Papa, Annamaria Colao, Rosario Pivonello and Leo J Hofland
Adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs) are rare tumors with scant treatment options for which new treatments are required. The mTOR pathway mediates the intracellular signals of several growth factors, including the insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), and therefore represents a potential attractive pathway for the treatment of several malignancies including ACCs. Several mTOR inhibitors, including sirolimus, temsirolimus and everolimus, have been clinically developed. This review summarizes the results of the studies evaluating the expression of the mTOR pathway components in ACCs, the effects of the mTOR inhibitors alone or in combination with other drugs in preclinical models of ACCs and the early experience with the use of these compounds in the clinical setting. The mTOR pathway seems a potential target for treatment of patients with ACC, but further investigation is still required to define the potential role of mTOR inhibitors alone or in combination with other drugs in the treatment of ACC patients.