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Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Mar;55(3):2362-2383. doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0480-z. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

Apoptosis Induced by the UV Filter Benzophenone-3 in Mouse Neuronal Cells Is Mediated via Attenuation of Erα/Pparγ and Stimulation of Erβ/Gpr30 Signaling.

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Department of Experimental Neuroendocrinology, Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Smetna Street 12, 31-343, Krakow, Poland.
Department of Cell Biology and Imaging, Institute of Zoology, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa Street 9, 30-387, Krakow, Poland.
Department of Experimental Neuroendocrinology, Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Smetna Street 12, 31-343, Krakow, Poland.


Although benzophenone-3 (BP-3) has frequently been reported to play a role in endocrine disruption, there is insufficient data regarding the impact of BP-3 on the nervous system, including its possible adverse effects on the developing brain. Our study demonstrated that BP-3 caused neurotoxicity and activated apoptosis via an intrinsic pathway involving the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and the activation of caspases-9 and -3 and kinases p38/MAPK and Gsk3β. These biochemical alterations were accompanied by ROS production, increased apoptotic body formation and impaired cell survival, and by an upregulation of the genes involved in apoptosis. The BP-3-induced effects were tissue-specific and age-dependent with the most pronounced effects observed in neocortical cells at 7 days in vitro. BP-3 changed the messenger RNA (mRNA) expression levels of Erα, Erβ, Gpr30, and Pparγ in a time-dependent manner. At 3 h of exposure, BP-3 downregulated estrogen receptor mRNAs but upregulated Pparγ mRNA. After prolonged exposures, BP-3 downregulated the receptor mRNAs except for Erβ mRNA that was upregulated. The BP-3-induced patterns of mRNA expression measured at 6 and 24 h of exposure reflected alterations in the protein levels of the receptors and paralleled their immunofluorescent labeling. Erα and Pparγ agonists diminished, but Erβ and Gpr30 agonists stimulated the BP-3-induced apoptotic and neurotoxic effects. Receptor antagonists caused the opposite effects, except for ICI 182,780. This is in line with a substantial reduction in the effects of BP-3 in cells with siRNA-silenced Erβ/Gpr30 and the maintenance of BP-3 effects in Erα- and Pparγ siRNA-transfected cells. We showed for the first time that BP-3-affected mRNA and protein expression levels of Erα, Erβ, Gpr30, and Pparγ, paralleled BP-3-induced apoptosis and neurotoxicity. Therefore, we suggest that BP-3-evoked apoptosis of neuronal cells is mediated via attenuation of Erα/Pparγ and stimulation of Erβ/Gpr30 signaling.


BP-3; Benzophenone-3; Estrogen receptors; Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma; Primary neuronal cell cultures

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