Cell death & disease

Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate exposure impairs meiotic progression and DNA damage repair in fetal mouse oocytes in vitro.

PMID 28771232


Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), is the most common member of the class of phthalates that are used as plasticizers and have become common environmental contaminants. A number of studies have shown that DEHP exposure impacts reproductive health in both male and female mammals by acting as an estrogen analog. Here, we investigated the effects of DEHP on meiotic progression of fetal mouse oocytes by using an in vitro model of ovarian tissue culture. The results showed that 10 or 100 μM DEHP exposure inhibited the progression of oocytes throughout meiotic prophase I, specifically from the pachytene to diplotene stages. DEHP possibly impairs the ability to repair DNA double-strand breaks induced by meiotic recombination and as a consequence activates a pachytene check point. At later stages, such defects led to an increased number of oocytes showing apoptotic markers (TUNEL staining, expression of pro-apoptotic genes), resulting in reduced oocyte survival, gap junctions, and follicle assembly in the ovarian tissues. Microarray analysis of ovarian tissues exposed to DEHP showed altered expression of several genes including some involved in apoptosis and gonad development. The expression changes of some genes clustered in cell-cell communication and signal transduction, along with plasma membrane, extracellular matrix and ion channel function classes, were dependent on the DEHP concentration. Together, these results bring new support to the notion that exposure to DEHP during gestation might exert deleterious effects on ovary development, perturbing germ cell meiosis and the expression of genes involved in a wide range of biological processes including ovary development.