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Abstract

Phthalates are a class of endocrine disruptors found in a variety of consumer goods, and offspring can be exposed to these compounds during gestation and lactation. Our laboratory has found that perinatal exposure to an environmentally relevant mixture of phthalates resulted in a decrease in cognitive flexibility and in neuron number in the adult rat medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Here, we examine effects of phthalate treatment on prenatal cellular proliferation and perinatal apoptosis in the mPFC. To examine the phthalate effects on cellular proliferation, dams consumed 0, 1, or 5 mg/kg of the phthalate mixture daily from embryonic day 2 (E2) through the day of birth (P0), and on E16 and E17, they were injected with BrdU. The mPFC of offspring was analyzed on P5 and showed a decrease in labelled cells in the phthalate exposed groups. To examine whether changes in BrdU density observed on P5 were due to altered cell survival, cell death was measured on E18, P0, and P5 using a TUNEL assay in a separate cohort of prenatally exposed offspring. There was an increase in TUNEL labelled cells at E18 in the phthalate exposed groups. In the final experiment, dams consumed the phthalate mixture from E2 through P10, at which time mPFC tissue was stained with TUNEL. Phthalate treated subjects showed a higher density of apoptotic cells at P10. These results indicate both pre- and postnatal phthalate exposure increases apoptosis in the male and female rat mPFC. While the impact of phthalates on proliferation cannot be ruled out, these data do not allow for definitive conclusions.

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... Phthalates may disrupt the maternal thyroid signaling pathway [49][50][51], which is crucial for early brain development [52]; thus, abnormal maternal thyroid function is associated with child neurodevelopmental delay. Phthalate exposure is also associated with altered sex hormone levels during gestation, which can affect child neurodevelopment by damaging neurotransmitters [6], disrupting development of sex-specific brain structures [53,54], or altering the medial prefrontal cortex function [55,56]. In addition, phthalate exposure may affect child neurodevelopment by causing oxidative stress. ...
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Phthalate esters containing a straight-chain backbone of 4-6 carbons have demonstrated testicular toxicity and infertility in adult and pre-adolescent rats, mice, hamsters, and ferrets. In recent years, these same phthalates have been shown to interfere with the normal development of the male reproductive tract in rodents and rabbits. The review presented here summarizes studies that provide evidence of a mode of action for these effects. The data indicate that C4-C6 phthalate esters inhibit processes in the Leydig cell, such as the synthesis of testosterone (T) and production of insulin-like factor 3 (insl3), both of which are required for normal development of male genitalia. A proposed secondary effect of reduced androgen production is on Sertoli cells, resulting in failure to proliferate and interference with cell-cell communication (gap-junction intracellular communication) leading to the development of large multinucleate gonocytes. The possibility that phthalates act directly on the Sertoli cells to interfere with intracellular communication is not excluded. The strength, consistency, and plausibility of the proposed mode of action and alternate modes of action are discussed.
Article
Background/objectives Pregnant women are ubiquitously exposed to phthalates from food packaging materials and personal care products. Phthalates alter estrogen and testosterone concentrations in experimental models, but their ability to impact these hormones in human pregnancy is not well characterized. Methods We recruited women ages 18–40 into the Illinois Kids Development Study (I-KIDS) in early pregnancy. Participants provided up to 5 first-morning urine samples across pregnancy (8–40 weeks gestation) that we pooled for quantification of 19 phthalate or phthalate alternative metabolites. Either individual (ng/mL) or molar sums (nmol/mL) of metabolites were used as exposure biomarkers. We summed urinary concentrations (ng/mL) of eight major estrogen (SumEstrogens) and two major testosterone (SumTestosterones) metabolites measured at median 13, 28, and 34 weeks gestation. We also estimated the ratio of estrogens-to-androgens. Linear mixed-effects models assessed relationships of phthalates/alternatives as continuous measures or as concentration quartiles with SumEstrogens, SumTestosterones, and the Estrogen/Androgen ratio in 434 women. In our models, we controlled for age, race, education, parity, smoking in the first trimester, pre-pregnancy body mass index, diet quality, conception season, fetal sex, and gestational age at hormone assessment. We also explored whether gestational age at hormone assessment or fetal sex modified these associations. All biomarkers and outcomes were specific gravity-adjusted, and continuous exposures and outcomes were also natural log-transformed. Results Most participants were non-Hispanic white (80.9%), college educated (82.2%), and had urinary phthalate/alternative metabolite concentrations similar to those of reproductive-aged U.S. women. Overall, select phthalate metabolites were positively associated with SumEstrogens and SumTestosterones, but negatively associated with the Estrogen/Androgen ratio. For example, SumEstrogens was 5.1% (95%CI: 1.8, 8.5) higher with every 2-fold increase in sum of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate metabolites, while SumTestosterones was 7.9% (95%CI: 1.0, 15.3) higher and Estrogen/Androgen ratio was −7.7% (95%CI: −13.6, −1.4) lower with every 2-fold increase in monoethyl phthalate. However, phthalate alternatives were only positively associated with SumEstrogens, which was 2.4% (95%CI: 0.4, 4.5) and 3.2% (95%CI: 0.7, 5.8) higher with every 2-fold increase in sum of di(isononyl) cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxylate metabolites and sum of di(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate metabolites, respectively. Gestational age- and fetal sex-specific associations were only consistently observed for associations of phthalates/alternatives with SumEstrogens, where associations were strongest in mid-to-late pregnancy in women carrying females. Conclusion Phthalates/alternatives may impact gestational hormones, with potential for gestational age- and fetal sex-specific associations. Whether maternal urinary estrogens and testosterones mediate associations of phthalates/alternatives with pregnancy and fetal outcomes merits further investigation.
Article
The developing brain is highly sensitive to the hormonal milieu, with gonadal steroid hormones involved in neurogenesis, neural survival, and brain organization. Limited available evidence suggests that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may perturb these developmental processes. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Aroclor 1221, would disrupt the normal timing of neurogenesis in two hypothalamic regions: the ventromedial nucleus (VMN) and the preoptic area (POA). These regions were selected because of their important roles in the control of sociosexual behaviors that are perturbed in adulthood by prenatal EDC exposure. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to PCBs from Embryonic Day 8 (E8) to E18, encompassing the period of neurogenesis of all hypothalamic neurons. To determine the birth dates of neurons, bromo-2-deoxy-5-uridine (BrdU) was administered to dams on E12, E14, or E16. On the day after birth, male and female pups were perfused, brains immunolabeled for BrdU, and numbers of cells counted. In the VMN, exposure to PCBs significantly advanced the timing of neurogenesis compared to vehicle-treated pups, without changing the total number of BrdU+ cells. In the POA, PCBs did not change the timing of neurogenesis nor the total number of cells born. This is the first study to show that PCBs can shift the timing of neurogenesis in the hypothalamus, specifically in the VMN but not the POA. This result has implications for functions controlled by the VMN, especially sociosexual behaviors, as well as for sexual selection more generally.
Article
Hormones influence neurodevelopment which can result in vulnerability to endocrine disruptors such as phthalates during both the perinatal period and adolescence. Using a rat model, we have previously shown that perinatal exposure to an environmentally relevant phthalate mixture at low doses results in cognitive flexibility deficits in adults and a reduction in neuron and synapse number within the medial prefrontal cortex. Here, we further examined the behavioral effects of exposure to an environmentally relevant mixture of phthalates at low doses during either perinatal development or adolescence. Using the elevated plus maze, adult females, not males, exposed to phthalates during adolescence showed indications of reduced anxiety-like behavior while perinatal exposed animals were unaffected. There was no effect of adolescent phthalate exposure on cognitive flexibility using the attentional set shift paradigm in either sex, unlike the impairments we have previously reported following perinatal exposure (Kougias et al., 2018b). Finally, there was no effect of phthalate exposure during either time frame on sensorimotor gating measured using prepulse inhibition. Environmentally relevant phthalate exposure during the perinatal period or during adolescence did not induce widespread changes in the adult behaviors measured here.
Article
Environmental factors such as diet and endocrine-disrupting chemicals have individually been shown to mediate metabolic function. However, the underlying mechanism by which the combination disrupts adipocyte morphology and fat storage remains unknown. The current study evaluated early-life programming by diet and phthalate exposure. During gestation and lactation, pregnant Long–Evans hooded rat dams were fed either a control (C) or high-fat (HF) diet and were orally administered one of three phthalate dosages (0, 200 or 1000 μg/kg/day), yielding six groups of offspring: C-0, C-200, C-1000, HF-0, HF-200 and HF-1000. On postnatal day (PND) 90, gonadal fat pads were collected and analyzed for histology, gene expression and DNA methylation. Differences in body weight were observed only in males. Hematoxylin and eosin staining revealed larger adipocyte size in HF-0 vs. C-0 females. Exposure to 200 or 1000 μg/kg/day phthalates modulated diet-induced changes in adipose morphology. Compared to C-0 females, HF-0 females also had higher expression of the adipogenesis gene Wnt receptor, frizzled 1 (Fzd1) and the triglyceride cleaving enzyme lipoprotein lipase (Lpl). These increases in gene expression were accompanied by lower DNA methylation surrounding the transcription start sites of the two genes. Diet-driven effects were observed in unexposed females but not in phthalate-treated rats. Results suggest a sex-specific association between perinatal HF diet and body weight, adipocyte size and DNA methylation. Perinatal phthalate exposure appears to produce a phenotype that more closely resembles HF-fed animals.
Article
The growth and organization of the developing brain are known to be influenced by hormones, but little is known about whether disruption of hormones affects cortical regions, such as mPFC. This region is particularly important given its involvement in executive functions and implication in the pathology of many neuropsychiatric disorders. Here, we examine the long-term effects of perinatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds, the phthalates, on the mPFC and associated behavior. This investigation is pertinent as humans are ubiquitously exposed to phthalates through a variety of consumer products and phthalates can readily cross the placenta and be delivered to offspring via lactation. Pregnant dams orally consumed an environmentally relevant mixture of phthalates at 0, 200, or 1000 μg/kg/d through pregnancy and for 10 d while lactating. As adults, offspring were tested in an attentional set-shifting task, which assesses cognitive flexibility. Brains were also examined in adulthood for stereological quantification of the number of neurons, glia, and synapses within the mPFC. We found that, independent of sex, perinatal phthalate exposure at either dose resulted in a reduction in neuron number, synapse number, and size of the mPFC and a deficit in cognitive flexibility. Interestingly, the number of synapses was correlated with cognitive flexibility, such that rats with fewer synapses were less cognitively flexible than those with more synapses. These results demonstrate that perinatal phthalate exposure can have long-term effects on the cortex and behavior of both male and female rats.
Article
Humans are ubiquitously exposed to many phthalates, a class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used in many consumer goods, and diet, especially fatty foods, is presumed to be a major source of exposure. Here, we use a rat model of human prenatal exposure to investigate the potential interactive effects of an environmentally relevant mixture of phthalates and a maternal high-fat diet (HFD). From gestation through postnatal day (P)10, dams consumed the mixture of phthalates (0, 200, or 1000 μg/kg/day) and were fed a control or HFD. In males, perinatal exposure to the mixture of phthalates decreased prepubertal body weight and, in a dose-specific manner, periadolescent social play behavior. A dose-specific effect from phthalates with HFD was also seen in increased time alone in females during social play. HFD resulted in dams consuming more calories, having greater gestational weight gain, and licking and nursing their pups more, such that an early postnatal HFD generally increased pup body weight. There also was a tendency for increased oxidative stress markers at P10 within the medial prefrontal cortex of males exposed to the relatively high dose of phthalates and HFD. Effects on gene expression were inconsistent at P10 and P90 in both the medial prefrontal cortex and hypothalamus. Overall, this study demonstrates that phthalates and a maternal HFD only rarely interacted, except in oxidative stress markers in males. Additionally, perinatal exposure to an environmentally relevant mixture of phthalates can have a modest, but lasting, impact on social behaviors in both males and females.
Article
Phthalates are used in a large variety of products, such as building materials, medical devices, and personal care products. Most previous studies on the toxicity of phthalates have focused on single phthalates, but it is also important to study the effects of phthalate mixtures because humans are exposed to phthalate mixtures. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to an environmentally relevant phthalate mixture adversely affects female reproduction in mice. To test this hypothesis, pregnant CD-1 dams were orally dosed with vehicle (tocopherol-stripped corn oil) or a phthalate mixture (20 and 200 μg/kg/day, 200 and 500 mg/kg/day) daily from gestational day 10 to birth. The mixture was based on the composition of phthalates detected in urine samples from pregnant women in Illinois. The mixture included 35% diethyl phthalate, 21% di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, 15% dibutyl phthalate, 15% diisononyl phthalate, 8% diisobutyl phthalate, and 5% benzylbutyl phthalate. Female mice born to the exposed dams were subjected to tissue collections and fertility tests at different ages. Our results indicate that prenatal exposure to the phthalate mixture significantly increased uterine weight and decreased anogenital distance on postnatal days 8 and 60, induced cystic ovaries at 13 months, disrupted estrous cyclicity, reduced fertility-related indices, and caused some breeding complications at 3, 6, and 9 months of age. Collectively, our data suggest that prenatal exposure to an environmentally relevant phthalate mixture disrupts aspects of female reproduction in mice.
Article
Background: Exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates is highly prevalent. Prior studies have not assessed associations between urinary levels of BPA and phthalate metabolites and body composition. Methods: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1999 to 2006 on adults aged ≥20 were analyzed by linear regression for associations between urinary BPA, monoethyl phthalate, monobutyl phthalate (MBP), monoethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP), and monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP) and lean mass, fat mass, and percent body fat. Results: BPA and phthalate metabolites were not independently associated with fat mass or percent body fat. Significant inverse associations were observed with lean mass, with the strongest association observed for BPA in men (mean lean mass 1.39 kg lower for quartile 4 vs. quartile 1, p trend = 0.02). Conclusions: BPA and some phthalates could have important, negative effects on muscle and may affect conditions related to deficits in lean mass, though additional research is needed.
Article
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is currently the most commonly used phthalate for the production of flexible polyvinyl chloride. Phthalates including DEHP have been labeled as potential endocrine disruptors The effect on the development of the neocortex, however, is unknown. To evaluate the neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal DEHP exposure at 1 and 100mg/kg/day or 100 and 500mg/kg/day in fetal and newborn mice, we performed a detailed histologic analysis of the developing dorsal telencephalon and neocortex. The observation of fetuses exposed to DEHP revealed reductions of proliferation and neurogenesis (1 and 100mg/kg) and an increase in cell death (500mg/kg). In addition, the newborns prenatally exposed to DEHP showed an abnormal neuronal distribution and a decrease in neurons. These findings suggest that prenatal DEHP exposure induces neurodevelopmental toxicity associated with the neural stem cell niche and corticogenesis.
Article
Phthalate exposure has recently been associated with behavioral actions that are linked to its endocrine-disrupting properties. The purpose of this study was to investigate the molecular, anatomical, and behavioral effects of indirect perinatal benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) exposure in offspring of BBP-treated pregnant dams. In two separate experiments, we administered BBP (10.0 μg/ml) on food pellets to pregnant dams and examined the offspring. The first experiment revealed reproductive anatomical abnormalities linked to BBP's endocrine-disrupting properties, whereas histological analysis revealed preserved hippocampal neuronal migration. The second experiment demonstrated learning and memory impairments accompanied by molecular abnormalities in multiple brain regions. Offspring from BBP-treated dams had altered levels of several proteins important for neuronal circuitry formation, tissue development, and maturation. We suggest that BBP administration disrupts normal tlearning and that these effects could be related to alterations in brain development and result in a phenotype similar to that observed in neurodevelopmental disorders.
Article
Emerging evidence from observational studies suggests that prenatal exposure to phthalates affects neurodevelopment in children. To conduct a systematic review of the existing literature on the association between urinary phthalate concentrations and children's neurodevelopment. We searched electronic bibliographic databases (MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Global Health, CAB abstracts, and ERIC) (1910 to February 21st, 2014); reference lists of included articles, and conference abstracts (American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Neurology, and Pediatric Academic Societies). Two independent reviewers screened abstracts and extracted data. We included original studies reporting on the association between prenatal or childhood urinary phthalate metabolites, and cognitive and behavioral outcomes (e.g., IQ scores, BASC-2 scores or equivalent) in children 0-12 years of age. Of 2804 abstracts screened, 11 original articles met our criteria for inclusion. A systematic review of the literature supports the contention that prenatal exposure phthalates is associated with adverse cognitive and behavioral outcomes in children, including lower IQ, and problems with attention, hyperactivity, and poorer social communication. Further research characterizing the associations between specific phthalate metabolites and children's neurodevelopmental outcomes is needed to support the development of mitigation strategies and enhance the development of appropriate health policy. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Article
Abuse of herbal products containing synthetic cannabinoids has become an issue of public concern. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the acute cytotoxicity of synthetic cannabinoids on mouse brain neuronal cells. Synthetic cannabinoid (CP-55,940, CP-47,497, CP-47,497-C8, HU-210, JWH-018, JWH-210, AM-2201, and MAM-2201)-induced cytotoxicity was examined using forebrain neuronal cultures. These synthetic cannabinoids induced cytotoxicity in the forebrain cultures in a concentration-dependent manner. The cytotoxicity was suppressed by preincubation with the selective CB1 receptor antagonist AM251, but not with the selective CB2 receptor antagonist AM630. Furthermore, Annexin-V-positive cells were found among the treated forebrain cells. Synthetic cannabinoid treatment induced the activation of caspase-3, and preincubation with a caspase-3 inhibitor significantly suppressed the cytotoxicity. These synthetic cannabinoids induced apoptosis through a caspase-3-dependent mechanism in the forebrain cultures. Our results indicate that the cytotoxicity of synthetic cannabinoids towards primary neuronal cells is mediated by the CB1 receptor, but not by the CB2 receptor and further suggests that caspase cascades may play an important role in the apoptosis induced by these synthetic cannabinoids. In conclusion, excessive synthetic cannabinoid abuse may present a serious acute health concern due to neuronal damage or deficits in the brain.
Article
Dibutyl-phthalate (DBP) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. However, its neurotoxic effects on neonatal, immature or mature brains remain unclear. Here, we aimed to investigate the neurotoxicity of perinatal exposure of DBP on rodent offspring animals. Pregnant rats received intragastric DBP (500mg/kg body weight) daily from gestational day (GD) 6 to postnatal day (PND) 21. Animals in the control group received the same volume of edible corn oil. Brain sections or tissues from offspring rats on PND5, PND21 and PND60 were collected for analysis. Histological examination demonstrated that perinatal exposure of DBP resulted in hippocampal neuron loss and structural alternation in neonatal and immature offspring rats (PND5 and PND21), while no significant change was found in mature rats (PND60). DBP exposure induced cell apoptosis in hippocampal neurons of these neonatal and immature animals, as evidenced by the increased number of TUNEL-positive and Annexin V-propidium iodide (PI) positive cells and up-regulated caspase-3 activity. Moreover, DBP exposure decreased the expression of synaptophysin in the hippocampus and reduced both the slope and amplitude of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs). DBP also impaired the spatial learning and memory of offspring rats. However, no significant difference in the susceptibility to DBP-induced neurotoxicity was found between male and female offspring rats. Our findings indicated that perinatal exposure of DBP could induce neurotoxicity in neonatal and immature offspring animals, but had no influence on mature animals after DBP withdrawal. These results may provide basic experimental evidence for better understanding the neurotoxic effects of DBP on neonatal, immature and mature brains.
Article
Previously, we demonstrated that maternal exposure to phthalates enhances atopic dermatitis in male mouse offspring. However, whether phthalate exposure affects neuroimmune biomarkers in allergic mice has not yet been studied. Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) are environmental chemicals that are commonly used as plasticizers. This study was designed to investigate the expression levels of neuroimmune biomarkers in the hypothalamus of a murine model of allergic asthma after phthalate exposure throughout juvenility until adulthood. Six-week-old C3H/HeJ Jcl male mice were treated with DEHP or DINP (0, 0.02, 0.4 or 8 nmol per body per week) and ovalbumin (OVA; 1 µg per body per 2 weeks) for 7 weeks intratracheally. On the day after the completion of the phthalate and OVA treatment, the hypothalamus from each mouse was collected, and the mRNA expression levels of neuroimmune biomarkers were examined using a real-time RT-PCR analysis. The mRNA expression levels of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, the chemokine CCL3, the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-κB, the oxidative stress marker heme-oxygenase (HO)1, a nerve growth factor, and the microglia marker Iba1 were remarkably up-regulated in the hypothalami of mice treated with 8 nmol of DEHP in the presence of the allergen. However, no significant changes were observed, except for reductions in the TNF-α and CCL2 mRNA levels, in mice exposed to DINP combined with the allergen. This study is the first report to show that high-dose DEHP exposure throughout juvenility until adulthood may induce neuroinflammation by modulating neuroimmune biomarkers in the hypothalami of allergic mice. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
During central nervous system (CNS) development, programmed cell death (PCD) has been viewed traditionally as a fate reserved for differentiating neurons that are in the process of making synaptic connections. Recent studies in the embryonic cerebral cortex (Blaschke et al. [1996] Development 122:1165–1174), however, have shown that many neuroblasts in the proliferative ventricular zone undergo PCD as well and that this likely represents a novel form distinct from that found in regions of postmitotic neurons. To determine the commonality of this form of PCD throughout the CNS, the prevalence of dying cells identified by in situ end labeling plus (ISEL+; Blaschke et al. [1996]) was determined within populations of proliferating neuroblasts that were identified by rapid bromodeoxyuridine incorporation. Based on this approach, dying cells were observed to be a common feature of all proliferative neuroblast populations examined. In addition, when ISEL+ was combined with in situ hybridization for postmitotic neural gene-1 (png-1; Weiner and Chun [1997] J. Comp. Neurol. 381:130–142), which identifies newly postmitotic neurons, a positive correlation was found between the start of differentiation and the onset of PCD. These data indicate that PCD in neuroblast proliferative zones is a universal feature of nervous system development. Moreover, cell death represents a prominent cell fate that may be linked to mechanisms of differentiation. J. Comp. Neurol. 396:39–50, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
Although neuroanatomical plasticity has been demonstrated in the rat visual cortex, no systematic data on the dendritic development of the area are available. In the present study, the visual cortex of hooded rats at 1, 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 postnatal days of age (P1-P15) was impregnated with the rapid Golgi method. The cortex was divided into the superficial layers, II-IV, and the middle layer V. At P1, pyramidal neurons had apical shafts and the beginning of the apical terminal arch. Analysis of both basilar and oblique dendritic number showed that pyramidal neurons of the middle layer developed more quickly than those in the superficial layers. The number of lower order basilar dendritic branches reached asymptote over the examined time period, whereas the higher order branches were still increasing in number but at a decelerating rate by P15. Dendrites at all ages exhibited varicosities which were especially prominent on the thin dendritic branches of the earlier ages. Some thin, filamentous processes, termed protospines, were found on dendrites and cell bodies at P1 to P5. They seemed to decrease by P7, when a few mature spines appeared. Spines increased in number on days P10 and P15. A comparison of the data from this study with quantified Golgi studies in adult rats indicates that by P10 and P15 the number of basilar branches is in the range seen in the adult.
Article
We have previously shown that males have more neurons than females in the primary visual cortex, and neonatal androgens play an important role in this difference. Also, we have found that females experience more cell death during development in this region than in males. Therefore, we hypothesized that the neonatal hormone environment directly influences the amount of cell death. In the present experiment, female rats were implanted with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or estradiol at postnatal day 1. These animals, along with control males and females, were sacrificed on postnatal days 6, 11 and 25. Using unbiased stereology to quantify neuronal and pyknotic cell density, we observed that females implanted with DHT had a similar pattern and proportion of cells dying as control males. Additionally, developmental cell death in females implanted with estradiol was not significantly different than control females. Thus, neonatal androgens have an inhibitory effect on developmental cell death in the rat primary visual cortex.
Article
Steroid hormones exert profound effects on the development of brain areas controlling complex cognitive function in adulthood. One class, progestins, may contribute by acting on the progestin receptor (PR), which is transiently expressed in a critical layer of developing cortex: the subplate. PR expression in the subplate coincides with the establishment of ongoing cortical connectivity and may play an important organisational role. Identification of the factor(s) that regulate the precise timing of PR expression within subplate may help elucidate the function of PR. Thyroid hormone may interact with hormone response elements within the PR gene. The present study examined the effects of maternal hypothyroidism on levels of PR immunoreactivity (PR-IR) within the foetal subplate. Pregnant rats were made hypothyroid by the administration of methimazole and potassium perchlorate in drinking water. Maternal hypothyroidism significantly decreased PR-IR within the foetal subplate. Using the incorporation of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrDU) during subplate cell neurogenesis (embryonic day 13.5) to determine subplate cell survival in hypothyroid animals, we found that decreases in PR-IR cannot be attributed to significant subplate cell loss but are more likely the result of altered PR expression. Gestational thyroxine replacement to hypothyroid dams prevented the decrease in PR-IR within the subplate. These results identify thyroid hormone as a potential factor in the regulation of PR expression in the developing brain. These results are consistent with the idea that endocrine cross-talk between progesterone and thyroid hormone may be one mechanism by which maternal hypothyroidism alters normal cortical development.
Article
Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is widely used as a plasticizer in plastics. Its reproductive toxicity and teratogenic effects are well known. DEHP can cause liver damage and peroxisome proliferation, as well as carcinogenesis. Animal study has shown that DEHP causes neurodegeneration in rat brain. Prenatal exposure to DEHP disrupts brain development and decreases brain weight in rats. But its mechanism of action in the brain is not clear. This study used a neuroblastoma cell line, Neuro-2a cells, to investigate the toxic effect of DEHP. The results revealed that DEHP inhibits cell proliferation, activate caspase-3, induce apoptosis in a dose and time dependent manner, and activate expression of the PPARγ and Trim17 protein. Administration of the PPARγ agonist (troglitazone) enhanced DEHP-induced Trim17 protein expression and this enhancement could be reversed by the PPARγ antagonist (GW9662). These results suggest that DEHP activates the Trim17 protein via PPARγ leading to cleavage pro-caspase-3 and apoptosis. This finding may account for the central nervous system toxicity of DEHP and implies DEHP can impair fetal brain development.
Article
The purpose of this study was to evaluate male reproductive-organ development in early postnatal male rats following neonatal exposure to di(n-butyl) phthalate (DBP) and identify a mechanism of action. Neonatal male rats were injected subcutaneously from d 5 to 14 after birth with corn oil (control) and DBP (5, 10, or 20 mg/animal). Animals were killed at postnatal day (PND) 31 and PND 42, respectively, and testes, epididymis, seminal vesicles, ventral prostate, levator ani plus bulbocavernosus muscles (LABC), and Cowper's glands were weighed. In addition, the expressions of androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptors (ERs), and steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) were also examined in the testes. Total body weights gains were significantly reduced at PND 29-31, but gradually recovered on PND 42. However, DBP (20 mg/animal) significantly reduced the weights of testes and accessory sex organs (seminal vesicles, LABC, and Cowper's glands), but not of the epididymis. These adverse effects persisted through puberty at PND 42. Serum testosterone levels did not show any significant changes in the control and DBP treatment groups. Histomorphological examination showed mild diffuse Leydig-cell hyperplasia in the interstitium of severely affected tubules on PND 31. Only a few multinuclear germ cells were observed. DBP (20 mg/animal) significantly decreased the expression of AR, whereas ER expression and SF-1 expression were increased in a dose-dependent manner on PND 31 in the rat testes. On PND 42, DBP (20 mg/animal) significantly inhibited ER expression in the testes, but not AR, ER, and SF-1. These results demonstrate that neonatal exposure to DBP produces permanent changes in the endocrine system and leads to abnormal male reproductive-tract development until puberty. Thus our data suggest that DBP is likely to exert its antiandrogenic actions through disruption of AR or ER expression during the early neonatal stage.
Article
Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) is the most widely used plasticizers in daily-life products. In this study we evaluated the influence of mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), the active metabolite of DEHP, on the neurodevelopment in vitro. After neuronotypic PC12 cells were exposed to MEHP (0.25, 2.5, 25, and 250 μM), the effects of which on cell proliferation and differentiation were investigated. In undifferentiated PC12 cells, MEHP inhibited cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. After 24h of MEHP treatment, there was a dose-dependent G2/M cell cycle arrest as well as a sharp drop of DNA synthesis. During the process of NGF-induced differentiation of the cell line, 4 days of MEHP exposure (2.5-250 μM) increased membrane and cytoskeletal protein contents, enhanced NGF-induced neurite outgrowth, up-regulated the choline acetyl transferase (ChAT) mRNA and down-regulated tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA levels, which suggested the promoted differentiation towards the acetylcholine (ACh) phenotype at the expense of the dopamine (DA) phenotype. Take together, our results indicate that MEHP has a potential to disturb neurodevelopment by suppressing cell proliferation and promote cell differentiation in neurocytes.
Article
Thyroid hormone is essential for proper brain development since it acts on processes such as neuronal migration and differentiation, myelination and synaptogenesis. In this review, we summarize the consequences of thyroid hormone deficiency for brain development with special focus on the cerebellum, an important target of thyroid action. In addition, we discuss the role of iodothyronine deiodinases and thyroid hormone transporters in regulating local thyroid hormone concentrations as well as current knowledge about the function of thyroid hormone receptors and their target genes during brain maturation. Despite considerable progress in recent years in deciphering thyroid hormone signaling pathways we still know very little on the molecular level by which mode of action thyroid hormone exerts its cell-specific effects. Hence, we will particularly address the open questions that remain to be addressed in order to better understand the role of thyroid hormone in brain development.
Article
A major question is whether exposure to mixtures of low-dose endocrine disruptors (EDs) having different action mechanisms affects neurodevelopment differently than exposure to EDs individually. We therefore investigated the effects of fetal and neonatal exposure to three typical EDs - bisphenol A (BPA), di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP), and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) - on the midbrain dopaminergic system associated with functions - including motor activity, emotion, and cognition - affected by neuropsychiatric diseases such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. ICR mouse dams and their pups were orally treated with BPA (5mg/(kg day)), DEHP (1mg/(kg day)), or TCDD (8ng/kg) individually, or with mixtures thereof, to compare the effects between sole and mixed administration. We analyzed tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)- and Fos-immunoreactive (ir) neurons as markers of dopamine and neuronal activation, respectively. The numbers of TH- and/or Fos-ir neurons and the intensity of TH-immunoreactivity within midbrain dopaminergic nuclei (A9, A10, and A8) of each sole administration group significantly differed from controls at 2, 4, and 6 weeks of age. In contrast, no significant differences were detected in the mixture groups, suggesting counteractions among those chemicals. These results indicate that ED mixtures as pollution have unique and elusive effects. Thyroid hormones and/or aryl hydrocarbon receptor-related mechanisms may be responsible for this counteraction.
Article
[3H]Thymidine autoradiography was used to investigate neurogenesis in all areas of the limbic cortex in the medial wall of the hemisphere. The experimental animals were the offspring of pregnant females injected with [3H]thymidine on 2 consecutive days: Embryonic Day (E)13-E14, E14-E15, ...E21-E22, respectively. On Postnatal Day (P)60, the proportion of neurons originating during 24-h periods were quantified at nine anteroposterior levels. Three types of neurogenetic gradients are found. (i) Deep cells are older than superficial cells: layer VI is generated mainly on E15-E16, layer V on E16-E18, and layers IV-II on E18-E20. (ii) There is a ventral/older to dorsal/younger gradient between the dorsal peduncular, infralimbic, and anterior cingulate areas rostral to the genu of the corpus callosum. A ventral/older to dorsal/younger gradient is also found between superficial cells (layers II-IV) in anterior cingulate (CG3/CG1), posterior cingulate (CG2/CG1), and retrosplenial areas (RSG/RSA). (iii) An anterior/older to posterior/younger gradient is found between areas throughout the medial limbic cortex. Some of these neurogenetic patterns correlate with anatomical interconnections between the supracallosal medial limbic cortex (posterior cingulate and retrosplenial areas) and the anteroventral/anteromedial thalamic nuclei: older thalamic cells have longer axons that terminate in cortical areas containing younger cells, while younger thalamic cells have shorter axons that terminate in cortical areas containing older cells. Projections from the medial limbic cortex to the striatum also correlate with neurogenetic gradients: older cortical source cells in the infralimbic area project to the older striatal cells in the enkephalin-rich patches, while younger cortical source cells in the cingulate areas project to younger striatal cells in the surrounding matrix.
Article
Five daily oral doses of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) (2 g/kg) given to rats on Days 2-6, 6-10, or 14-18 of lactation caused significant decreases in body weight and increases in hepatic peroxisomal enzymes palmitoyl CoA oxidase and carnitine acetyltransferase in the dams and their suckling pups. Plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels were decreased in the lactating dams. Decreased food consumption, as indicated by pair-fed rats, accounted for the decreased body weight in the pups but not the increases in enzyme activities. To determine whether DEHP and mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) were transferred through the milk, milk and plasma were collected from lactating rats 6 hr after the third dose of DEHP. The milk contained 216 +/- 23 micrograms/ml DEHP and 25 +/- 6 micrograms/ml MEHP (mean +/- SE), while the plasma contained less than 0.5 micrograms/ml DEHP and 75 +/- 12 micrograms/ml MEHP. The high milk/plasma ratio for DEHP (greater than 200) indicates efficient extraction of DEHP from the plasma into the milk. DEHP dosing during lactation also caused a decrease in mammary gland weight and a decrease in mammary gland RNA content which reflects synthetic activity. The water content of the milk was reduced, which probably accounted for the increase in lipid in the milk. Milk lactose was decreased in DEHP-treated and pair-fed rats, consistent with the decrease in milk production. The results show that exposure to high doses of DEHP during lactation in rats can result in changes in milk quality and quantity and can lead to DEHP and MEHP exposure in the suckling rat pups.
Article
A key event in the development of the mammalian cerebral cortex is the generation of neuronal populations during embryonic life. Previous studies have revealed many details of cortical neuron development including cell birthdates, migration patterns and lineage relationships. Programmed cell death is a potentially important mechanism that could alter the numbers and types of developing cortical cells during these early embryonic phases. While programmed cell death has been documented in other parts of the embryonic central nervous system, its operation has not been previously reported in the embryonic cortex because of the lack of cell death markers and the difficulty in following the entire population of cortical cells. Here, we have investigated the spatial and temporal distribution of dying cells in the embryonic cortex using an in situ endlabelling technique called 'ISEL+' that identifies fragmented nuclear DNA in dying cells with increased sensitivity. The period encompassing murine cerebral cortical neurogenesis was examined, from embryonic days 10 through 18. Dying cells were rare at embryonic day 10, but by embryonic day 14, 70% of cortical cells were found to be dying. This number declined to 50% by embryonic day 18, and few dying cells were observed in the adult cerebral cortex. Surprisingly, while dying cells were observed throughout the cerebral cortical wall, the majority were found within zones of cell proliferation rather than in regions of postmitotic neurons. These observations suggest that multiple mechanisms may regulate programmed cell death in the developing cortex. Moreover, embryonic cell death could be an important factor enabling the selection of appropriate cortical cells before they complete their differentiation in postnatal life.
Article
During central nervous system (CNS) development, programmed cell death (PCD) has been viewed traditionally as a fate reserved for differentiating neurons that are in the process of making synaptic connections. Recent studies in the embryonic cerebral cortex (Blaschke et al. [1996] Development 122:1165-1174), however, have shown that many neuroblasts in the proliferative ventricular zone undergo PCD as well and that this likely represents a novel form distinct from that found in regions of postmitotic neurons. To determine the commonality of this form of PCD throughout the CNS, the prevalence of dying cells identified by in situ end labeling plus (ISEL +; Blaschke et al. [1996]) was determined within populations of proliferating neuroblasts that were identified by rapid bromodeoxyuridine incorporation. Based on this approach, dying cells were observed to be a common feature of all proliferative neuroblast populations examined. In addition, when ISEL+ was combined with in situ hybridization for postmitotic neural gene-1 (png-1; Weiner and Chun [1997] J. Comp. Neurol. 381:130-142), which identifies newly postmitotic neurons, a positive correlation was found between the start of differentiation and the onset of PCD. These data indicate that PCD in neuroblast proliferative zones is a universal feature of nervous system development. Moreover, cell death represents a prominent cell fate that may be linked to mechanisms of differentiation.
Article
DEHP is a widely used platiciser in the manufacture of PVC-based materials. It is known to disrupt the reproductive tract development in male rats. We have performed the Hershberger assay with DEHP on an immature castrated rat model to check if DEHP antagonise the testosterone propionate androgenic effect on the accessory sex organs development. DEHP significantly decreased the BC/LA muscles, the prostate, and the seminal vesicles relative weights from 100, 200, and 400 mg/kg bw/day, respectively. DEHP increased the liver relative weight from 100 mg/kg bw/day. A study was also performed on MDA-MB453 cell line stably transfected with pMMTVneo-Luc with DEHP and its major metabolites (MEHP and metabolites VI and IX) to identify anti-androgenic activity. Neither DEHP nor MEHP antagonised DHT activity in the MDA-MB453 transfected cells. In contrast, metabolites VI and IX were anti-androgenic in vitro. DEHP appeared not to be a 5alpha-reductase inhibitor and acted in an independent mechanism from the testicular production in the young rat.
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Some phthalates are suspected to disrupt the endocrine system, especially by mimicking estrogens. In this study, we characterized the activities of human estrogen receptor alpha (hERalpha), human estrogen receptor beta (hERbeta), and human androgen receptor (hAR) in the presence of 22 phthalates including 3 of their metabolites using highly sensitive reporter gene assays. Of the 22 compounds tested, several phthalate diesters with alkyl chains ranging in length from C3 to C6 exhibited not only hERalpha-mediated estrogenic activity, but also hERbeta-mediated antiestrogenic activity in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, we found that some phthalate diesters possess hAR-mediated antiandrogenic activity. However, the phthalates having side chains with very short length (diethyl) or very long length (diheptyl), and three metabolites (monoesters) were found to have no effect on the activities of the three receptors. These results indicate that several phthalate esters simultaneously act as agonists and/or antagonists via one or more hormonal receptors, and interaction of phthalate esters with the estrogen and androgen receptors requires certain size and bulkiness with alkyl groups.
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The authors examined discrimination rule learning and extradimensional set-shifting ability in rats given systemic or intracranial injections of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist MK801. Pretraining systemic injections of MK801 impaired both the acquisition of the initial discrimination rule (Set 1) and the shift to the 2nd rule (Set 2). Pretraining intramedial prefrontal cortical (mPFC) administration of MK801 did not impair Set 1 acquisition. Intra-mPFC injection of MK801 was previously found to impair Set 2 acquisition. Impaired Set 2 performance was due to increased cognitive perseveration. The data suggest that discrimination learning in naive subjects requires NMDA receptors outside the mPFC, whereas NMDA receptors within the mPFC are selectively involved in the modification of previous knowledge and/or the inhibition of previously learned responses.
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The cortical neuropathology of schizophrenia includes neuronal atrophy, decreased neuropil, and alterations in neuronal density. Taken together with evidence of decreased synaptic markers and dendritic spines, the data suggest that synaptic circuitry is altered. Recent neuroimaging studies also indicate that a progressive loss of cortical gray matter occurs early in the course of schizophrenia. Although the mechanisms underlying these deficits are largely unknown, recent postmortem data implicate a role for altered neuronal apoptosis. Apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, is regulated by a complex cascade of pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins. Apoptotic activation can lead to rapid neuronal death. However, emerging data also indicate that sub-lethal apoptotic activity can lead to a limited form of apoptosis in terminal neurites and individual synapses to cause synaptic elimination without cell death. For example, in Alzheimer's disease, a localized apoptotic mechanism is thought to contribute to early neurite and synapse loss leading to the initial cognitive decline. Recent studies indicate that apoptotic regulatory proteins and DNA fragmentation patterns are altered in several cortical regions in schizophrenia. This paper will review converging lines of data that implicate synaptic deficits in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and propose an underlying role for apoptotic dysregulation.
Article
Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) is a commonly used plasticizer which can act as an endocrine disruptor. It has been suggested that in addition to its antiandrogenic effects, DEHP may interfere with estrogen metabolism through suppression of aromatase enzyme activity. This enzyme catalyzes the conversion of testosterone to estradiol and plays a critical role in brain sexual differentiation. We investigated the effects of two wide ranges of DEHP doses on brain aromatase activity of male and female rat offspring. Wistar rat dams were treated daily with DEHP and peanut oil (control) by gavage from gestation day 6 to lactation day 21 at doses of 0.015, 0.045, 0.135, 0.405 and 1.215mgDEHP/kgbodyweight(bw)/day (low doses) and at 5, 15, 45, 135 and 405mgDEHP/kgbw/day (high doses). Aromatase activity was determined in hypothalamic/preoptic area (HPOA) brain sections from male and female pups on postnatal days (PNDs) 1 and 22. In males on PND 1, aromatase activity was inhibited at low doses and increased at high doses resulting in a non-monotonic dose-response profile which resembled a J-shaped curve. Inhibition was statistically significant at 0.135 and 0.405mgDEHP/kg/day, while increased activity was observed at 15, 45 and 405mg/kg/day. In contrast to findings on PND 1, aromatase activity at weaning (PND 22) was more affected in females than in males. An increase in aromatase activity was observed at only one dose in males (0.405mg/kg/day) while an increase in activity was observed at all doses in the females except for 0.045 and 5mgDEHP/kg/day. Overall, these results indicate that males and females respond differently to DEHP not only in regard to the age at which effects are manifested, but also in the shape of the dose-response curve. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report biological effects of DEHP at doses that overlap with the estimated exposure of the general human population.