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Toxicol Sci. 2013 May;133(1):54-66. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kft028. Epub 2013 Feb 15.

Comparative analysis of temporal and dose-dependent TCDD-elicited gene expression in human, mouse, and rat primary hepatocytes.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)-elicited time- and dose-dependent differential gene expression was compared in human, mouse, and rat primary hepatocytes. Comprehensive time course (10 nM TCDD or dimethyl sulfoxide vehicle control for 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 24, and 48h) studies identified 495, 2305, and 711 differentially expressed orthologous genes in human, mouse, and rat hepatocytes, respectively. However, only 16 orthologs were differentially expressed across all three species, with the majority of orthologs exhibiting species-specific expression (399 human, 2097 mouse, and 533 rat), consistent with species-specific expression reported in other in vitro and in vivo comparative studies. TCDD also elicited the dose-dependent induction of 397 human, 100 mouse, and 443 rat genes at 12h and 615 human, 426 mouse, and 314 rat genes at 24h. Comparable EC50 values were obtained for AhR battery genes including Cyp1a1 (0.1 nM human, 0.05 nM mouse, 0.08 nM rat at 24h) and Tiparp (0.97 nM human, 0.63 nM mouse, 0.14 nM rat at 12h). Overrepresented functions and pathways included amino acid metabolism in humans, immune response in mice, and energy homeostasis in rats. Differentially expressed genes functionally associated with lipid transport, processing, and metabolism were overrepresented in all three species but exhibited species-specific expression consistent with the induction of hepatic steatosis in mice but not in rats following a single oral gavage of TCDD. Furthermore, human primary hepatocytes showed lipid accumulation following 48h of treatment with TCDD, suggesting that AhR-mediated steatosis in mice more closely resembles human hepatic fat accumulation compared with that in rats. Collectively, these results suggest that species-specific gene expression profiles mediate the species-specific effects of TCDD despite the conservation of the AhR and its signaling mechanism.

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