Mesnage R. et al.
Whether glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are more potent than glyphosate alone at activating cellular mechanisms, which drive carcinogenesis remain controversial. As GBHs are more cytotoxic than glyphosate, we reasoned they may also be more capable of activating carcinogenic pathways. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the effects of glyphosate with Roundup GBHs both in vitro and in vivo. First, glyphosate was compared with representative GBHs, namely MON 52276 (European Union), MON 76473 (United Kingdom), and MON 76207 (United States) using the mammalian stem cell-based ToxTracker system. Here, MON 52276 and MON 76473, but not glyphosate and MON 76207, activated oxidative stress and unfolded protein responses. Second, molecular profiling of liver was performed in female Sprague-Dawley rats exposed to glyphosate or MON 52276 (at 0.5, 50, and 175 mg/kg bw/day glyphosate) for 90 days. MON 52276 but not glyphosate increased hepatic steatosis and necrosis. MON 52276 and glyphosate altered the expression of genes in liver reflecting TP53 activation by DNA damage and circadian rhythm regulation. Genes most affected in liver were similarly altered in kidneys. Small RNA profiling in liver showed decreased amounts of miR-22 and miR-17 from MON 52276 ingestion. Glyphosate decreased miR-30, whereas miR-10 levels were increased. DNA methylation profiling of liver revealed 5727 and 4496 differentially methylated CpG sites between the control and glyphosate and MON 52276 exposed animals, respectively. Apurinic/apyrimidinic DNA damage formation in liver was increased with glyphosate exposure. Altogether, our results show that Roundup formulations cause more biological changes linked with carcinogenesis than glyphosate.