In order to study the effects of vertically transferred coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls on female reproductive development, female rat offspring from dams of Sprague-Dawley strain, which received daily oral administration of vehicle (corn oil) or 1 or 3 μg/kg of 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB-126) from 2 weeks prior to mating with intact males until 20 days after delivery were examined from birth until puberty. Hepatic expression of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-inducible enzyme cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) was detected in all offspring from PCB-126-exposed dams, indicating vertical transfer of PCB-126. Furthermore, quantification of ovarian mRNAs encoding CYP1A1, AhR and ARNT demonstrated that the ovary equipped the AhR-signaling system through which transcription of the CYP1A1 gene was enhanced in a dose-dependent manner. Exposure to PCB-126 retarded the growth of offspring in both exposed groups, while the viability of the neonates of the exposed groups was comparable to that of the oil-exposed controls. The exposure to 3 μg/kg/day reduced the ovarian weight on postnatal day (PND) 24, with atresia of most of the antral follicles and delayed vaginal opening. Exposure to 1 μg/kg/day did not produce such effects; however, both doses of PCB-126 induced external urogenital anomalies, such as vaginal thread and hypospadias, in all of the PCB-126-exposed female offspring. These results indicate that vertically transferred PCB-126 is potent enough to exert a direct effect on the ovary and adversely affect female puberty by altering the morphological and functional development of the female reproductive system.
2006 Society for Reproduction and Development