Mechanism of BDE209-induced impaired glucose homeostasis based on gene microarray analysis of adult rat liver

Arch Toxicol. 2013 Aug;87(8):1557-67. doi: 10.1007/s00204-013-1059-8. Epub 2013 May 3.


Several persistent organic pollutants are reported to be potentially associated with the risk of human diabetes that has become rapidly epidemic in China currently. 2,2',3,3',4,4',5,5',6,6'-decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE209) is commercially most important both in the production and in the use of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). It might bioaccumulate in wildlife and human and is the only PBDEs mixture still used today. In the present study, male adult rats treated with BDE209 (0, 0.05, 1, and 20 mg/kg) for 8 weeks were used to explore the effects of BDE209 on glucose homeostasis and possible mechanisms; 0.05 mg/kg of BDE209 induced dose-related hyperglycemia. Then, we performed the full-genome gene expression microarrays, gene ontology analysis, and pathway analysis in this group and control. BDE209 induced 1,257 liver gene transcript changes, and 18 canonical pathways were significantly enriched. Four of them were involved in immune diseases, including autoimmune thyroid disease, graft-versus-host disease, allograft rejection, and type I diabetes mellitus (T1MD), which was confirmed by the decrease in serum insulin. Subsequently, gene act network and gene co-expression network found that some MHC molecules and TNF-α were involved in T1DM pathway, which was then confirmed by the increase in serum TNF-α. Additionally, reduced glutathione and superoxide dismutase in plasma indicated that oxidative damage might partly contribute to BDE209-induced hyperglycemia. The results of this study provide some new experimental evidence that the exposure to high levels of BDE209 may contribute to the onset of diabetes in human populations. Further work needs to be done to confirm this link.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / toxicity*
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Hyperglycemia / chemically induced
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / drug effects
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Glucose
  • decabromobiphenyl ether