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Prenatal exposure to environmentally relevant levels of PBDE-99 leads to testicular dysgenesis with steroidogenesis disorders
Journal of Hazardous Materials  (IF10.588),  Pub Date : 2021-10-20, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.127547
Tianxin Zhao, Xiangliang Tang, Dian Li, Jinglu Zhao, Rui Zhou, Fangpeng Shu, Wei Jia, Wen Fu, Huimin Xia, Guochang Liu

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a widely used class of brominated flame retardants. Exposure to PBDEs could induce testicular damage in mammals, but the effects and potential mechanism of action of prenatal exposure to environmentally relevant PBDEs on testicular development remain unclear. For the in vivo study, pregnant ICR mice were exposed to environmentally relevant levels of 2,2 ́,4,4 ́,5-pentabromodiphenyl ether (PBDE-99), a major component of commercial PBDE mixtures. We found that the anogenital index and testicular organ coefficient were significantly decreased, the incidence of cryptorchidism was increased, and testicular histology was disturbed in male offspring. Transcriptomic profiling showed that steroidogenesis disorders were significant in all PBDE-99 exposure groups. The testosterone levels, expressions of testosterone regulators, and the number of CYP11A1-positive and 11β-HSD1-positive Leydig cells were significantly decreased after PBDE-99 exposure. For the in vitro study, TM3 Leydig cells were exposed to PBDE-99 at gradient concentrations. Transcriptomic profiling and validation experiments showed that PBDE-99 upregulated reactive oxygen species, activated the ERK1/2 pathway, inhibited the ubiquitination degradation pathway, and finally induced Leydig cell apoptosis. Cumulatively, these findings revealed that prenatal exposure to environmentally relevant levels of PBDE-99 leads to steroidogenesis disorders by inducing the apoptosis of Leydig cells, causing testicular dysgenesis.