Environmentally relevant exposure to dibutyl phthalate disrupts DNA damage repair gene expression in the mouse ovary

Xiaosong Liu, Zelieann R. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Phthalates have a history of reproductive toxicity in animal models and associations with adverse reproductive outcomes in women. Human exposure to dibutyl phthalate (DBP) occurs via consumer products (7-10 μg/kg/day) and medications (1-233 μg/kg/day). Most DBP toxicity studies have focused on high supraphysiological exposure levels; thus, very little is known about exposures occurring at environmentally relevant levels. CD-1 female mice (80 days old) were treated with tocopherol-stripped corn oil (vehicle control) or DBP dissolved in oil at environmentally relevant (10 and 100 μg/kg/day) or higher (1000 μg/kg/day) levels for 30 days to evaluate effects on DNA damage response (DDR) pathway genes and folliculogenesis. DBP exposure caused dose-dependent effects on folliculogenesis and gene expression. Specifically, animals exposed to the high dose of DBP had more atretic follicles in their ovaries, while in those treated with environmentally relevant doses, follicle numbers were no different from vehicle-treated controls. DBP exposure significantly reduced the expression of DDR genes including those involved in homologous recombination (Atm, Brca1, Mre11a, Rad50), mismatch repair (Msh3, Msh6), and nucleotide excision repair (Xpc, Pcna) in a dose-specific manner. Interestingly, staining for the DNA damage marker, γH2AX, was similar between treatments. DBP exposure did not result in differential DNA methylation in the Brca1 promoter but significantly reduced transcript levels for the maintenance DNA methyltransferase, Dnmt1, in the ovary. Collectively, these findings show that oral exposure to environmentally relevant levels of DBP for 30 days does not significantly impact folliculogenesis in adult mice but leads to aberrant ovarian expression of DDR genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-867
Number of pages14
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 25 2019


  • atresia
  • cell cycle
  • endocrine disruptors
  • environmental contaminants and toxicants
  • follicle
  • follicle development
  • follicle maturation
  • gene expression
  • ovary
  • phthalate
  • rodents
  • toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmentally relevant exposure to dibutyl phthalate disrupts DNA damage repair gene expression in the mouse ovary'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this