Modulation of endocrine pathways by 4,4'-DDE in the deer mouse Peromyscus maniculatus

R. L. Dickerson, C. S. McMurry, E. E. Smith, M. D. Taylor, S. A. Nowell, L. T. Frame

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14 Scopus citations


4,4'-DDT and 4,4'-DDE are widespread environmental contaminants that cause eggshell thinning in birds, altered sex ratios in the American alligator, and changes in the anal-genital distance in rodents. These contaminants are known to cause some of their toxicity by altering steroid receptor-mediated mechanisms. However, chemical-specific alterations in the expression of hormone-metabolizing enzymes may also be a mechanism for endocrine disruption, by altering the half-life of hormones in critical tissues. Previously, we showed that 4,4'-DDE causes a dose-dependent increase in ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity, but not pentoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase (PROD) activity, in the deer mouse. In this study, we demonstrated that 4,4'-DDE elicited a corresponding increase in CYP1A protein expression but not CYP2B using Western blotting and immunoprecipitation. 4,4'-DDE-mediated changes in phase II conjugating enzymes; UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) and phenolsulfotransferase (ST), were also investigated for the first time. Prepubescent female deer mice were dosed with 4,4'-DDE by gavage on days 1 and 2, then euthanized on day 4. As anticipated, dose-dependent increases in hepatic EROD and MROD activities, but not PROD or BROD, were observed. UGT activity was monitored by incubating liver microsomes and 14C-UDP-GA with potential substrates and measuring incorporation of radioactivity into TLC-resolved glucuronides. Dose-dependent increases in conjugation were observed with p-nitrophenol (a general UGT substrate) but not testosterone. Interestingly, a biphasic dose-response curve was observed for ST activity, with a peak at the 3 mg/kg dose. Dose-dependent increases in CYP1A1 and UGT-specific immunoreactive proteins were observed, suggesting de novo synthesis as a consequence of 4,4'-DDE exposure. We also measured Phase I and II enzymes in deer mouse platelets. Preliminary results indicate that the 4,4'-DDE-induced changes in liver Phase I and II enzyme activity were similar, but not identical, to those found in platelets. These results indicate that environmentally-relevant levels of 4,4'-DDE modulate the activity and expression of CYP1A1 and phase II enzymes in the deer mouse and that certain changes may be measured non-lethally. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Aug 15 1999


  • 4,4'-DDE
  • CYP1A1
  • CYP2B
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Platelet
  • Sulfotransferase
  • UDP-glucuronosyltransferase


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