Neonatal exposure to a glyphosate-based herbicide alters the uterine differentiation of prepubertal ewe lambs.
Environ Pollut. 2020 Jun 17 ;265(Pt B):114874. Epub 2020 Jun 17. PMID: 32599332
The exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), such as glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), during early life might alter female fertility. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of neonatal exposure to a GBH on sheep uterine development. To achieve this, Friesian ewe lambs were exposed to GBH (2 mg/kg of body weight/day; n = 12) or vehicle (controls; n = 10) through s.c. injections, from postnatal day (PND) 1 to PND14; on PND45, the uteri were obtained to evaluate histomorphological and molecular parameters. Morphological parameters were determined by picrosirius-hematoxylin staining.Protein expression of Ki67 (as a cell proliferation marker), p27, and molecules involved in uterine organogenetic differentiation was measured by immunohistochemistry. We also determined the mRNA expression of the IGF molecular pathway by RT-PCR. Although histomorphology was not modified, the uteriof GBH-exposed ewe lambs showed lower cell proliferation, together with higher p27 protein expression. In addition, the uteri of GBH-exposed ewe lambs showed increased gene expression of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), decreased expression of ERα in the luminal (LE) and glandular (GE) epithelia and in the subepithelial stroma (SS), and lower PR expression in the LE but higher in the GE and SS. In addition, GBH treatment decreased the uterine expression of Wnt5a in the GE, of Wnt7a in the SS, of β-catenin in the LE and GE, of Hoxa10 in the SS, and of Foxa2 in the GE as compared with controls. In conclusion, neonatal exposure to GBH decreased cell proliferation and altered the expression of molecules that control proliferation and development in the uterus. All these changes might have adverse consequences on uterine differentiation and functionality, affecting the female reproductive health of sheep. GBH may be responsible for uterine subfertility, acting as an EDC.