Differential effects of the persistent DDT metabolite methylsulfonyl-DDE in nonstimulated and LH-stimulated neonatal porcine Leydig cells

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3-Methylsulfonyl-DDE (MeSO2-DDE) is a potent adrenal toxicant formed from the persistent insecticide DDT. MeSO2-DDE is widely present in human plasma, milk and fat, and in tissues of marine mammals. In the present study, we investigated endocrine-disrupting properties of MeSO2-DDE in primary neonatal porcine Leydig cells. Unstimulated and LH-stimulated cells were exposed to MeSO2-DDE at concentrations ranging from 0.6 to 20 μM for 48 h. Cell viability, hormone secretion and expression of steroidogenesis related genes were recorded. Secretion of testosterone and estradiol was increased in a concentration-dependent fashion in unstimulated Leydig cells, while in LH-stimulated cells, secretion of testosterone, estradiol and progesterone was decreased. The expression of important steroidogenic genes was down-regulated both in unstimulated and LH-stimulated cells. Notably, no significant impairment of cell viability occurred at any exposure except the highest concentration (20 μM) in LH-stimulated cells. This indicated that the effects on hormone secretion and gene expression were not caused by cytotoxicity. We conclude that the adrenal toxicant MeSO2-DDE disrupts hormone secretion in a complex fashion in neonatal porcine Leydig cells. The different endocrine responses in unstimulated and LH-stimulated cells imply that the endocrine disruptive activity of MeSO2-DDE is determined by the physiological status of the Leydig cells.


▸ MeSO2-DDE disrupted estradiol and testosterone secretion in neonatal Leydig cells. ▸ The opposite dose-dependent hormone secretion was related to the presence of LH. ▸ Down-regulation of important steroidogenic genes was related to MeSO2-DDE not LH. ▸ The endocrine disruption seen by MeSO2-DDE was not related to cytotoxicity. ▸ MeSO2-DDE implies disruptive activity determined by the cells' physiological status.

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