Chronic Exposure of Female Mice to an Environmental Level of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Suppresses Estrogen Synthesis Through Reduced Histone H3K14 Acetylation of the StAR Promoter Leading to Deficits in Follicular Development and Ovulation

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Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) at a high dose of 10 mg/kg has been reported to affect the neuroendocrine system and exert toxic effects in rodents. The present study examined the influence of chronic exposure to a low-dose of PFOS (0.1 mg/kg/day) on female reproductive endocrine and function. Herein, we show that adult female mice exposed to PFOS by gavage for 4 months (PFOS-mice) exhibited a prolongation of diestrus without signs of toxic effects. The numbers of mature follicles and corpora luteum were significantly reduced in PFOS-mice with increase of atresic follicles. The levels of serum estrogen (E2) and progesterone at proestrus and diestrus were reduced in PFOS-mice. In comparison with controls, PFOS-mice showed a significant decrease in the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone, the number of kisspeptin neurons and the level of kiss1 mRNA in anteroventral periventricular nucleus at proestrus but not at diestrus, which could be corrected with the normalization to E2. PFOS-mice did not generate an LH-surge at proestrus, which could be rescued by the application of E2 or kisspeptin-10. Notably, the level of ovarian steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) mRNA was decreased in PFOS-mice with the reduction of histone H3K14 acetylation in StAR promoter relative to control mice, whereas the P450scc expression and histone H3K14 acetylation showed no difference between the groups. The present study provides evidence that the chronic exposure to the low-dose of PFOS through selectively reducing histone acetylation of StAR suppresses the biosynthesis of E2 to impair the follicular development and ovulation.

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