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Exposure to Fluoride From in Utero to Puberty Alters Gonadal Structure and Steroid Hormone Expression in Offspring Rats

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Abstract

The reproductive toxicity of fluoride has been proven by a large number of studies. While the underlying mechanism of reproductive toxicity during pregnancy is still unclear. Hence, in this study, we investigated the effects of fluoride exposure on ovarian and testicular steroid hormone synthesis in young and adult rat offspring. We established a model of fluoride-exposed rat pups from in utero to puberty to explore the mechanisms of fluoride impacts on reproductive toxicity in the offspring. The results showed that NaF exposure did not affect the 3 weeks of age offspring. Whereas the body weight in both sexes significantly decreased, and the ovarian and testicular tissue structures were damaged at 11 weeks of age. In females, the total number of secondary follicles and mature follicles were significantly reduced after NaF exposure. Moreover, estradiol (E2) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels in the females were significantly reduced in the 100 mg/L NaF exposure group. In males, the sperm viability and testosterone (T) were significantly decreased in the NaF exposure groups. Additionally, during steroidogenesis in ovaries and testes, fluoride remarkably decreased the expression levels of genes and proteins, including acute regulatory protein (StAR), 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD), cytochrome P450 17a-hydroxylase (CYP17A1), and cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1), while the mRNA levels of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) decreased only in the testes. These results indicated that fluoride exposure disrupted the steroid hormone balance by changing several important steroidogenic-related genes associated with the development of the gonads, and damage the normal structure of the gonads in rat offspring.

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Funding

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 31672623, 31372497) and Veterinary Environmental Lab (Shanxi Key Lab).

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Correspondence to Jundong Wang.

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Li, W., Sun, Z., Li, M. et al. Exposure to Fluoride From in Utero to Puberty Alters Gonadal Structure and Steroid Hormone Expression in Offspring Rats. Biol Trace Elem Res 201, 1261–1273 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-022-03220-8

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