Exp Neurobiol.  2018 Dec;27(6):472-488. 10.5607/en.2018.27.6.472.

Developmental Exposure to Di-(2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate Induces Cerebellar Granule Cell Apoptosis via the PI3K/AKT Signaling Pathway

  • 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, China Medical University, Shenyang 110122, China. jchen@cmu.edu.cn


Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is an ubiquitous environmental contaminant because of its extensive use in plastics and its persistence. As an environmental endocrine disruptor, it is suspected to interfere with neurodevelopment in people. However, evidence of the effects of maternal DEHP exposure on cerebellar development in offspring is scarce. The objective of this study was to investigate maternal exposure to DEHP and its effect on apoptosis of cerebellar granule cells (CGCs) and related mechanisms. Pregnant Wistar rats were administrated DEHP (0, 30, 300 and 750 mg/kg/d) by gavage from gestational day (GD) 0 to postnatal day (PN) 21. Primary CGCs were also exposed to mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), the main metabolite of DEHP, for 24 h with concentrations of 0, 25, 100 and 250 µM. The CGCs of male offspring from 300 and 750 mg/kg/d DEHP exposure groups showed significantly increased apoptosis. In addition, the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway was inhibited in the male offspring of the 300 and 750 mg/kg/d DEHP exposure groups. However, effects on female pups were not obvious. Apoptosis was also elevated and the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway was inhibited after primary CGCs were exposed to MEHP. Furthermore, apoptosis was reduced after treatment with the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway activator, insulin-like growth factor (IGF) 1, and increased after treatment with LY294002, an inhibitor of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. These results suggested that maternal DEHP exposure induced apoptosis in the CGCs of male pups via the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, and the apoptosis could be rescued by IGF1 and aggravated by LY294002.


DEHP; Cerebellar granule cell; Apoptosis; PI3K/AKT signaling pathway

MeSH Terms

Diethylhexyl Phthalate
Maternal Exposure
Rats, Wistar
Diethylhexyl Phthalate
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