Ovarian dysfunction following prenatal exposure to an insecticide, chlordecone, associates with altered epigenetic features

Epigenetics Chromatin. 2019 May 13;12(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s13072-019-0276-7.


Chlordecone (CD) is an insecticide that was used in the French West Indies for several years to control the banana root borer pest. Given its nonsignificant degradation, it persists in the environment. CD is a carcinogenic compound with reproductive and developmental toxicity and is a recognized endocrine-disrupting chemical. In this study, we examined the effects of CD on female reproductive system of mice with the focus on epigenetic features in ovary. Our data show that gestational exposure to low dose of CD affects meiotic double-strand breaks repair in female embryos. In adult mice derived from CD-treated pregnant females, we observed delayed puberty, decreased number of primordial and increased number of atretic follicles. Gene expression analysis revealed that Rcbtb2 and Rbpms genes were not expressed in embryonic gonads. Estrogen signaling- and oocyte maturation-associated genes were downregulated in adult ovaries. The morphological changes were associated with altered epigenetic features: increased H2Aub and increased H3K27me3 and decreased H4ac and H3K4me3 in embryonic oocytes. The DNA damage-associated, γH2AX marks were detected in the follicles of treated but not control adult ovaries. We also found reduced H3K4me3 and H4ac in fully grown oocytes of the treated ovaries. The ChIP-seq analysis of H3K4me3 in adult ovaries showed that target genes of ZFP57 and TRIM28, which regulate pluripotency and imprinting, were significantly enriched in altered regions. Our study clearly demonstrates that gestational exposure to a low dose of CD impairs the function of female reproductive system and the changes are associated with altered epigenetic features.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlordecone / adverse effects*
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / drug effects
  • DNA Repair / drug effects
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics
  • Epigenomics / methods
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Genitalia, Female / drug effects
  • Insecticides / adverse effects
  • Mice
  • Oocytes / drug effects
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Oogenesis / drug effects
  • Ovary / drug effects*
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects


  • Insecticides
  • Chlordecone