Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were used as flame-retardant additives in a wide range of polymers. The generations born when environmental concentrations of PBDEs reached their maximum account in the United States for one-fifth of the total population. We hypothesized that exposure to PBDEs during sensitive developmental windows might result in long-lasting changes in liver metabolism. The present study was based on experiments with CD-1 mice and human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (human hepatoma cell line, HepG2). Pregnant mice were exposed to 0.2 mg/kg 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) from gestation day 8 until postnatal day 21. The metabolic health-related outcomes were analyzed on postnatal day 21 and postnatal week 20 in male offspring. Several groups of metabolic genes, including ribosomal and mitochondrial genes, were significantly upregulated in the liver at both points. Genes regulated via mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, the gatekeeper of metabolic homeostasis, were whether up- or downregulated at both measurement points. On postnatal day 21, but not week 20, both mTOR complexes in the liver were activated, as measured by phosphorylation of their targets. mTOR complexes were also activated by BDE-47 in HepG2 cells in vitro. The following changes were observed at week 20: a decreased number of polyploid hepatocytes, suppressed cytoplasmic S6K1, twofold greater blood insulin-like growth factor-1 and triglycerides, and 2.5-fold lower expression of fatty acid uptake membrane receptor CD36 in liver tissue. Thus, perinatal exposure to environmentally relevant doses of BDE-47 in laboratory mice results in long-lasting changes in liver physiology. Our evidence suggests involvement of the mTOR pathway in the observed metabolic programming of the liver.
Keywords: Freeform/Key Words: polybrominated diphenyl ether; hyperlipidemia; mTOR; metabolism; ribosome; rodent.