Pollutants from burning of diesel fuel are hazardous to human health. Nanoparticles in diesel exhaust potentially have profound impact on fetal development and maternal endocrine function during pregnancy due to their ability to penetrate deeply into the body. To investigate the effects of nanoparticle-rich diesel exhaust (NR-DE) on pregnancy, pregnant rats were exposed to NR-DE, filtered diesel exhaust (F-DE) or clean air for 19 days of gestation. Relative weights of maternal liver and spleen to body weight were significantly lower in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control group. The serum concentration of maternal progesterone was significantly lower, while those of luteinizing hormone (LH) and corticosterone were significantly higher in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control group. The serum concentration of estradiol-17β was significantly higher in the F-DE group than that in the control group. The levels of cytochrome P450 side-chain cleavage enzyme, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and LH receptor mRNA in the corpus luteum were significantly lower in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control. In fetuses, body weight and crown-rump length were significantly greater and shorter, respectively, in both males and females in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control group. These results demonstrate that exposure of pregnant rats to NR-DE and F-DE suppresses the function of corpora lutea and stimulates the function of the adrenal cortex, suggesting a risk of spontaneous abortion associated with maternal hormonal changes.
2013 Society for Reproduction and Development