Gestational 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB 126) exposure disrupts fetoplacental unit: Fetal thyroid-cytokines dysfunction

Life Sci. 2018 Jan 1;192:213-220. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2017.11.033. Epub 2017 Nov 21.


Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is related to several endocrine disorders. This study examined the effect of maternal exposure of 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB 126) on the fetoplacental unit and fetal thyroid-cytokine axis during the pregnancy. Pregnant albino rats received PCB 126 (20 or 40μg/kgb.wt.) by oral gavage from gestation day (GD) 1 to 20. Potential effects of PCB 126 were evaluated by following the histopathological changes in the placenta by Haematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) stain and measuring the maternofetal thyroid axis (ELIZA), maternofetal body weight, and fetal growth markers (ELIZA), and cytokines (ELIZA) at embryonic day (ED) 20. Placental tissues of both treated groups showed hyperemia, hemorrhage, degeneration and apoptosis in labyrinth layer and spiral artery at GD 20. Both administrations of PCB 126 elevated serum thyrotropin (TSH) concentration, and decreased free thyroxine (FT4) and free triiodothyronine (FT3) concentrations, resulting in a maternofetal hypothyroidism. The presence of hypothyroidism increased fetal serum concentration of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), leptin (LEP), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and decreased the fetal serum insulin growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF-II, insulin, adiponectin (ADP), and growth hormone (GH) in both treated groups at ED 20. However, the increase in resistin (RETN) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) was non-significant in low-dose group and highly significant in high-dose group. Simultaneously, the reduction in body weight of the dams and fetuses was observed in both PCB 126 groups of examined day with respect to the control group. The maternal PCB 126 distorted the fetoplacental unit might disrupt the fetal thyroid-cytokines axis and prenatal development.

Keywords: Cytokines; Fetoplacental unit; Fetuses; PCB 126; Pregnant; Thyroid.

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / biosynthesis
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Fetal Weight / drug effects
  • Fetus / drug effects*
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Growth Hormone / biosynthesis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / biosynthesis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / biosynthesis
  • Placenta / drug effects*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thyroid Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Adiponectin
  • Cytokines
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Igf2 protein, rat
  • insulin-like growth factor-1, rat
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Thyrotropin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Thyroxine
  • 3,4,5,3',4'-pentachlorobiphenyl