Developmental exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) causes reproductive tract malformations, affects fertility and increases the risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina and cervix in humans. Previous studies on a well-established mouse DES model demonstrated that it recapitulates many features of the human syndrome, yet the underlying molecular mechanism is far from clear. Using the neonatal DES mouse model, the present study uses global transcript profiling to systematically explore early gene expression changes in individual epithelial and mesenchymal compartments of the neonatal uterus. Over 900 genes show differential expression upon DES treatment in either one or both tissue layers. Interestingly, multiple components of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ)-mediated adipogenesis and lipid metabolism, including PPARγ itself, are targets of DES in the neonatal uterus. Transmission electron microscopy and Oil-Red O staining further demonstrate a dramatic increase in lipid deposition in uterine epithelial cells upon DES exposure. Neonatal DES exposure also perturbs glucose homeostasis in the uterine epithelium. Some of these neonatal DES-induced metabolic changes appear to last into adulthood, suggesting a permanent effect of DES on energy metabolism in uterine epithelial cells. This study extends the list of biological processes that can be regulated by estrogen or DES, and provides a novel perspective for endocrine disruptor-induced reproductive abnormalities.
- Received November 9, 2011.
- Accepted May 23, 2012.
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