Author(s): Ronco AM, Urrutia M, Montenegro M, Llanos MN
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Abstract Cadmium exposure induces low birth weight through unknown mechanisms. Since low birth weight is associated to foetal exposure to high glucocorticoids (GC) concentrations, we hypothesized that low birth weight induced by prenatal exposure to Cd(2+) is, at least in part, mediated by higher foetal exposure to GC, specifically corticosterone, the main active GC in rodents. Pregnant rats were exposed to different dose of CdCl(2) administered in drinking water during the whole pregnancy period. At term, corticosterone was measured by enzyme immunoassay in maternal and foetal blood and in placental tissues. Cadmium was determined in placentas, maternal tissues (liver and kidney) and foetuses by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Placental 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11beta-HSD2) activity and expression were determined by a radiometric conversion assay and quantitative RT-PCR respectively. Results demonstrated that 50 ppm of Cd(2+), which was accumulated in different maternal tissues but not in the foetus, reduced pup birth weights and increased plasma corticosterone concentrations, both in mother and foetus. Placental 11beta-HSD2 activity and expression did not change by the treatment. We conclude that 50 ppm of Cd(2+) administered during pregnancy, increase foetal corticosterone concentrations due, probably, to alterations of the regulatory mechanisms of placental barrier to GC causing a mild but significant reduced birth weight.
This article was published in Toxicol Lett
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism