Prados J, Stenz L, Somm E, Stouder C, Dayer A, Paoloni-Giacobino A
Di-(2-ethylhexyl)phtalate (DEHP) is a plasticizer with endocrine disrupting properties found ubiquitously in the environment and altering reproduction in rodents. Here we investigated the impact of prenatal exposure to DEHP on spermatogenesis and DNA sperm methylation in two distinct, selected, and sequenced mice strains. FVB/N and C57BL/6J mice were orally exposed to 300 mg/kg/day of DEHP from gestation day 9 to 19. Prenatal DEHP exposure significantly decreased spermatogenesis in C57BL/6J (fold-change = 0.6, p-value = 8.7*10-4), but not in FVB/N (fold-change = 1, p-value = 0.9). The number of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) by DEHP-exposure across the entire genome showed increased hyper- and decreased hypo-methylation in C57BL/6J compared to FVB/N. At the promoter level, three important subsets of genes were massively affected. Promoters of vomeronasal and olfactory receptors coding genes globally followed the same trend, more pronounced in the C57BL/6J strain, of being hyper-methylated in DEHP related conditions. In contrast, a large set of micro-RNAs were hypo-methylated, with a trend more pronounced in the FVB/N strain. We additionally analyze both the presence of functional genetic variations within genes that were associated with the detected DMRs and that could be involved in spermatogenesis, and DMRs related with the DEHP exposure that affected both strains in an opposite manner. The major finding in this study indicates that prenatal exposure to DEHP can decrease spermatogenesis in a strain-dependent manner and affects sperm DNA methylation in promoters of large sets of genes putatively involved in both sperm chemotaxis and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms.