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Environ Pollut. 2019 Jun;249:822-830. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.03.101. Epub 2019 Mar 27.

Exposure to Aroclor 1254 persistently suppresses the functions of pancreatic β-cells and deteriorates glucose homeostasis in male mice.

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State Key Laboratory of Cellular Stress Biology, School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen, PR China.
State Key Laboratory of Cellular Stress Biology, School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen, PR China. Electronic address:


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a class of persistent organic pollutants that have been shown to be related to the occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Nevertheless, it is necessary to further explore the development of T2DM caused by PCBs and its underlying mechanisms. In the present study, 21-day-old C57BL/6 male mice were orally treated with Aroclor 1254 (0.5, 5, 50 or 500 μg kg-1) once every three days. After exposure for 66 d, the mice showed impaired glucose tolerance, 13% and 14% increased fasting serum insulin levels (FSIL), and 63% and 69% increases of the pancreatic β-cell mass in the 50 and 500 μg kg-1 groups, respectively. After stopping exposure for 90 d, treated mice returned to normoglycemia and normal FSIL. After re-exposure of these recovered mice to Aroclor 1254 for 30 d, fasting plasma glucose showed 15%, 28% and 16% increase in the 5, 50 and 500 μg kg-1 treatments, FSIL exhibited 35%, 27%, 30% and 32% decrease in the 0.5, 5, 50 or 500 μg kg-1 groups respectively, and there was no change in pancreatic β-cell mass. Transcription of the pancreatic insulin gene (Ins2) was significantly down-regulated in the 50 and 500 μg kg-1 groups, while DNA-methylation levels were simultaneously increased in the Ins2 promoter during the course of exposure, recovery and re-exposure. Reduced insulin levels were initially rescued by a compensative increase in β-cell mass. However, β-cell mass eventually failed to make sufficient levels of insulin, resulting in significant increases in fasting blood glucose, and indicating the development of T2DM.


Dynamic effects; Epigenetic; Glucose homeostasis; Insulin level; Polychlorinated biphenyls

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