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Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are capable of disrupting thyroid hormone homeostasis. PBDE-47 (2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether) is one of the most abundant congeners found in human breast adipose tissue and maternal milk samples.
We evaluated the effects of developmental exposure to low doses of PBDE-47 on the female reproductive system.
Pregnant Wistar rats were administered vehicle (peanut oil) or PBDE-47 [140 or 700 microg/kg body weight (bw)] on gestation day (GD) 6, or 5 mg 6-n-propyl-2-thiouracil (PTU)/L in the drinking water from GD7 through postnatal day (PND) 21.
In female offspring sacrificed on PND38, there was a significant decrease in ovarian weight after exposure to PTU or 140 microg/kg PBDE-47. Alterations in folliculogenesis were apparent: we observed a decrease in tertiary follicles and serum estradiol concentrations in the offspring exposed to either PTU or 700 microg/kg PBDE-47. PTU exposure also resulted in a decrease in primordial follicles. On PND100, persistent effects on the thyroid glands included histologic and morphometric changes after exposure to either PTU or PBDE-47. No relevant changes in reproductive indices were observed after mating the exposed F1 females with nontreated males.
Administration of PBDE-47 at doses relevant to human exposure led to changes in the rat female reproductive system and thyroid gland.