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PLoS genetics

Estrogenic exposure alters the spermatogonial stem cells in the developing testis, permanently reducing crossover levels in the adult.


PMID 25615633

Abstract

Bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine disrupting chemicals have been reported to induce negative effects on a wide range of physiological processes, including reproduction. In the female, BPA exposure increases meiotic errors, resulting in the production of chromosomally abnormal eggs. Although numerous studies have reported that estrogenic exposures negatively impact spermatogenesis, a direct link between exposures and meiotic errors in males has not been evaluated. To test the effect of estrogenic chemicals on meiotic chromosome dynamics, we exposed male mice to either BPA or to the strong synthetic estrogen, ethinyl estradiol during neonatal development when the first cells initiate meiosis. Although chromosome pairing and synapsis were unperturbed, exposed outbred CD-1 and inbred C3H/HeJ males had significantly reduced levels of crossovers, or meiotic recombination (as defined by the number of MLH1 foci in pachytene cells) by comparison with placebo. Unexpectedly, the effect was not limited to cells exposed at the time of meiotic entry but was evident in all subsequent waves of meiosis. To determine if the meiotic effects induced by estrogen result from changes to the soma or germline of the testis, we transplanted spermatogonial stem cells from exposed males into the testes of unexposed males. Reduced recombination was evident in meiocytes derived from colonies of transplanted cells. Taken together, our results suggest that brief exogenous estrogenic exposure causes subtle changes to the stem cell pool that result in permanent alterations in spermatogenesis (i.e., reduced recombination in descendent meiocytes) in the adult male.