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Toxicol Sci. 2010 May;115(1):214-24. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq030. Epub 2010 Jan 29.

Perfluorooctanoic acid effects on steroid hormone and growth factor levels mediate stimulation of peripubertal mammary gland development in C57BL/6 mice.

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Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a synthetic, widely used perfluorinated carboxylic acid and a persistent environmental pollutant. It is an agonist of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha). Studies have shown that PFOA causes hepatocellular hypertrophy, tumorigenesis, and developmental toxicity in rodents, and some of its toxicity depends on the expression of PPARalpha. Our recent study revealed a stimulatory effect of peripubertal PFOA treatment (5 mg/kg) on mammary gland development in C57Bl/6 mice. The present study was designed to examine the underlying mechanism(s). It was found that mammary gland stimulation by PFOA was similarly observed in PPARalpha knockout and wild-type C57Bl/6 mice. The presence of ovaries was required for PFOA treatment (5 mg/kg) to stimulate mammary gland development with significant increases in the levels of enzymes involved in steroid hormone synthesis in both PFOA-treated wild-type and PPARalpha knockout mouse ovaries. PFOA treatment significantly increased serum progesterone (P) levels in ovary-intact mice and also enhanced mouse mammary gland responses to exogenous estradiol (E), P, and E + P. In addition, PFOA treatment resulted in elevated mammary gland levels of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), estrogen receptor alpha, amphiregulin (Areg, a ligand of EGFR), hepatocyte growth factor, cyclin D1, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in both wild-type and PPARalpha knockout mouse mammary glands. These results indicate that PFOA stimulates mammary gland development in C57Bl/6 mice by promoting steroid hormone production in ovaries and increasing the levels of a number of growth factors in mammary glands, which is independent of the expression of PPARalpha.

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