The impact of Zearalenone on the meiotic progression and primordial follicle assembly during early oogenesis
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a mycotoxin produced by fusarium graminearum. It can cause abnormal reproductive function by acting as an environmental estrogen. Research has traditionally focused on acute and chronic injury on mammalian reproductive capacity after ZEA treatment. Little research has been done studying the effects of ZEA exposure on early oogenesis. In this study, we investigate the effects of ZEA exposure on meiotic entry, DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), and primordial follicle assembly during murine early oogenesis. The results show that ZEA exposure significantly decreased the percentage of diplotene stage germ cells, and made more germ cells remain at zygotene or pachytene stages. Moreover, the mRNA expression level of meiosis-related genes was significantly reduced after ZEA treatment. ZEA exposure significantly increased DNA-DSBs at the diplotene stage. Meanwhile, DNA damage repair genes such as RAD51 and BRCA1 were activated. Furthermore, maternal exposure to ZEA significantly decreased the number of primordial follicles in newborn mouse ovaries. In conclusion, ZEA exposure impairs mouse female germ cell meiotic progression, DNA-DSBs, and primordial follicle assembly.