Perinatal exposure to known endocrine disrupters alters ovarian development and systemic steroid hormone profile in rats

Julie Boberg*, Hanna Katarina Lilith Johansson, Delphine Franssen, Johannah H Cramer, Diana Usai, Mikael Pedersen, Anne-Simone Parent, Terje Svingen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Disrupted ovarian development induced by chemical exposure may impair fertility later in life. Since androgens are essential for early ovarian development, we speculated that perinatal exposure to a binary mixture of the known anti-androgens DEHP and procymidone could alter steroid synthesis, disrupt ovarian follicle recruitment and ultimately maturation in female rat offspring. Wistar rat dams were exposed by oral gavage from gestation day 7 to postnatatal day 22 to two mixture doses known to alter reproductive development in male offspring (low: 10 mg/kg bw/day of procymidone and 30 mg/kg bw/day of DEHP; high: 20 mg/kg bw/day of procymidone and 60 mg/kg bw/day of DEHP). The Effects on plasma steroid hormones, ovarian follicle distribution and expression of markers related to steroid synthesis were examined in female offspring. In prepubertal offspring, we observed an increased number of newly recruited (primary) follicles in exposed animals compared to controls, and the plasma steroid hormone profile was altered by exposure: levels of progesterone, corticosterone and estrone were dose dependently elevated, whereas androgen levels were unaffected. In adulthood, a trend towards a smaller number of early-stage follicles may point to accelerated loss of follicle reserves, which is disconcerting. The changes in follicle distribution in exposed ovaries may reflect the combined influence of androgen receptor antagonism and altered ovarian steroid synthesis. This study adds to a growing body of evidence showing altered ovarian development following exposure to human relevant chemicals with possible severe consequences for female fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152821
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.


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