PloS one

A mechanism of male germ cell apoptosis induced by bisphenol-A and nonylphenol involving ADAM17 and p38 MAPK activation.

PMID 25474107


Germ cell apoptosis regulation is pivotal in order to maintain proper daily sperm production. Several reports have shown that endocrine disruptors such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Nonylphenol (NP) induce germ cell apoptosis along with a decrease in sperm production. Given their ubiquitous distribution in plastic products used by humans it is important to clarify their mechanism of action. TACE/ADAM17 is a widely distributed extracellular metalloprotease and participates in the physiological apoptosis of germ cells during spermatogenesis. The aims of this work were: 1) to determine whether BPA and NP induce ADAM17 activation; and 2) to study whether ADAM17 and/or ADAM10 are involved in germ cell apoptosis induced by BPA and NP in the pubertal rat testis. A single dose of BPA or NP (50 mg/kg) induces germ cell apoptosis in 21-day-old male rats, which was prevented by a pharmacological inhibitor of ADAM17, but not by an inhibitor of ADAM10. In vitro, we showed that BPA and NP, at similar concentrations to those found in human samples, induce the shedding of exogenous and endogenous (TNF-α) ADAM17 substrates in primary rat Sertoli cell cultures and TM4 cell line. In addition, pharmacological inhibitors of metalloproteases and genetic silencing of ADAM17 prevent the shedding induced in vitro by BPA and NP. Finally, we showed that in vivo BPA and NP induced early activation (phosphorylation) of p38 MAPK and translocation of ADAM17 to the cell surface. Interestingly, the inhibition of p38 MAPK prevents germ cell apoptosis and translocation of ADAM17 to the cell surface. These results show for the first time that xenoestrogens can induce activation of ADAM17 at concentrations similar to those found in human samples, suggesting a mechanism by which they could imbalance para/juxtacrine cell-to-cell-communication and induce germ cell apoptosis.