The Effects of Brominated Flame Retardants on Thyroid Hormone Homeostasis in Human Placenta Tissues and Cell Culture

Loading...
Thumbnail Image

Date

2016

Advisors

Stapleton, Heather M

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats

290
views
179
downloads

Abstract

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a class of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) that have been heavily used in consumer products such as furniture foams, plastics, and textiles since the mid-1970’s. BFRs are added to products in order to meet state flammability standards intended to increase indoor safety in the event of a fire. The three commercial PBDE mixtures, Penta-, Octa-, and DecaBDE, have all been banned in the United States, however, limited use of DecaBDE is still permitted. PBDEs were phased out of production and added to the Stockholm Convention due to concerns over their environmental persistence and toxicity. Human exposure to PBDEs occurs primarily through the inadvertent ingestion of contaminated house dust, as well as though dietary sources. Despite the phase-out and discontinued use of PBDEs, human exposure to this class of chemicals is likely to continue for decades due to the continued use of treated products and existing environmental reservoirs of PBDEs. Extensive research over the years has shown that PBDEs disrupt thyroid hormone (TH) levels and neurodevelopmental endpoints in rodent and fish models. Additionally, there is growing epidemiological evidence linking PBDE exposure in humans to altered TH homeostasis and neurodevelopmental impairments in children. Due to the importance of THs throughout gestation, there is a great need to understand the effects of BFRs on the developing fetus. Specifically, the placenta plays a critical role in the transport, metabolism, and delivery of THs to the fetal compartment during pregnancy and is a likely target for BFR bioaccumulation and endocrine disruption. The central hypothesis of this dissertation research is that BFRs disrupt the activity of TH sulfotransferase (SULT) enzymes, thereby altering TH concentrations in the placenta.

In the first aim of this dissertation research, the concentrations of PBDEs and 2,4,6-TBP were measured in a cohort of 102 placenta tissue samples from an ongoing pregnancy cohort in Durham, NC. Methods were developed for the extraction and analysis of the BFR analytes. It was found that 2,4,6-TBP was significantly correlated with all PBDE analytes, indicating that 2,4,6-TBP may share common product applications with PBDEs or that 2,4,6-TBP is a metabolite of PBDE compounds. Additionally, this was the first study to measure 2,4,6-TBP in human placenta tissues.

In the second aim of this dissertation research, the placenta tissue concentrations of THs, as well as the endogenous activity of deiodinase (DI) and TH SULT enzymes were quantified using the same cohort of 102 placenta tissue samples. Enzyme activity was detected in all samples and this was the first study to measure TH DI and SULT activity in human placenta tissues. Enzyme activities and TH concentrations were compared with BFR concentrations measured in Aim 1. There were few statistically significant associations observed for the combined data, however, upon stratifying the data set based on infant sex, additional significant associations were observed. For example, among males, those with the highest concentrations of BDE-99 in placenta had T3 levels 0.80 times those with the lowest concentration of BDE-99 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.59, 1.07). Whereas females with the highest concentrations of BDE-99 in placenta had T3 levels 1.50 times those with the lowest concentration of BDE-99 (95% CI: 1.10, 2.04). Additionally, all BFR analyte concentrations were higher in the placenta of males versus females and they were significantly higher for 2,4,6-TBP and BDE-209. 3,3’-T2 SULT activity was significantly higher in female placenta tissues, while type 3 DI activity was significantly higher in male placenta tissues. This research is the first to show sex-specific differences in the bioaccumulation of BFRs in human placenta tissue, as well as differences in TH concentrations and endogenous DI and SULT activity. The underlying mechanisms of these observed sex differences warrant further investigation.

In the third aim of this dissertation research, the effects of BFRs were examined in a human choriocarcinoma placenta cell line, BeWo. Michaelis-Menten parameters and inhibition curves were calculated for 2,4,6-TBP, 3-OH BDE-47, and 6-OH BDE-47. 2,4,6-TBP was shown to be the most potent inhibitor of 3,3’-T2 SULT activity with a calculated IC50 value of 11.6 nM. It was also shown that 2,4,6-TBP and 3-OH BDE-47 exhibit mixed inhibition of 3,3’-T2 sulfation in BeWo cell homogenates. Next, a series of cell culture exposure experiments were performed using 1, 6, 12, and 24 hour exposure durations. Once again, 2,4,6-TBP was shown to be the most potent inhibitor of basal 3,3’-T2 SULT activity by significantly decreasing activity at the high and medium dose (1 M and 0.5 M, respectively) at all measured time points. Interestingly, BDE-99 was also shown to inhibit basal 3,3’-T2 SULT activity in BeWo cells following the 24 hour exposure, despite exhibiting no inhibitory effects in the BeWo cell homogenate experiments. This indicates that BDE-99 must act through a pathway other than direct enzyme inhibition. Following exposures, the TH concentrations in the cell culture growth media and mRNA expression of TH-related genes were also examined. There was no observed effect of BFR treatment on these endpoints. Future work should focus on determining the downstream biological effects of TH SULT disruption in placental cells, as well as the underlying mechanisms of action responsible for reductions in basal TH SULT activity following BFR exposure.

This was one of the first studies to measure BFRs in a cohort of placenta tissue samples from the United States and the first study to measure THs, DI activity, and SULT activity in human placenta tissues. This research provides a novel contribution to our growing understanding of the effects of BFRs on TH homeostasis within the human placenta, and provides further evidence for sex-specific differences within this important organ. Future research should continue to investigate the effects of environmental contaminants on TH homeostasis within the placenta, as this represents the most critical and vulnerable stage of human development.

Department

Description

Provenance

Citation

Citation

Leonetti, Christopher (2016). The Effects of Brominated Flame Retardants on Thyroid Hormone Homeostasis in Human Placenta Tissues and Cell Culture. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12876.

Collections


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.