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Endocrinology. 2002 Dec;143(12):4544-51.

Isomer-specific activity of dichlorodyphenyltrichloroethane with estrogen receptor in adult and suckling estrogen reporter mice.

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3rd Laboratory/Biotechnology, Civic Hospital of Brescia, University of Brescia, 25123 Brescia, Italy.


We investigated the tissue-specific effects of dichlorodyphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) isomers in adult and suckling newborn mice, using a novel mouse line engineered to express a reporter of estrogen receptor transcriptional activity (ERE-tkLUC mouse). The DDT isomers p,p'-DDT [1,1,1-trichloro2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl) ethane] and o,p'-DDT [1,1,1-trichloro-2(p-chlorophenyl)-2-(o-chlorophenyl) ethane] were specifically selected as a weak and a strong estrogen, respectively. In adult male mice, p,p'-DDT induced luciferase activity in liver, brain, thymus, and prostate but not in heart and lung. The effect of p,p'-DDT was dose-dependent, maximal at 16 h after sc treatment, and completely blocked by the estrogen receptor antagonist ICI-182,780. In all the organs analyzed, except the liver, administration of o,p'-DDT showed a pattern of luciferase induction superimposable to that of its isomer p,p'-DDT. In liver, o,p'-DDT significantly decreased basal luciferase activity and blocked the reporter induction by 17beta-estradiol. These data lead us to hypothesize that a modulation of ER activity may be involved in the toxic effects of DDT demonstrated by epidemiological and experimental studies. Luciferase activity was also studied in 4-d-old mice lactating from a mother injected with either p,p'-DDT or o,p'-DDT. Both isomers induced a 2-fold increase in the newborn brain. An opposite effect was observed in liver, where p,p'-DDT increased and o,p'-DDT decreased luciferase, thus indicating that these compounds modulate ER activity in adult and newborn tissues by use of a similar mechanism. The ERE-tkLUC mouse proves to be a suitable tool to functionally assess the tissue specificity of estrogenic/antiestrogenic compounds in adult (as well as in suckling) mice.

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