Perinatal exposure of mice to the pesticide DDT impairs energy expenditure and metabolism in adult female offspring

Michele La Merrill, Emma Karey, Erin Moshier, Claudia Lindtner, Michael R. La Frano, John W. Newman, Christoph Buettner

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Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) has been used extensively to control malaria, typhus, body lice and bubonic plague worldwide, until countries began restricting its use in the 1970s. Its use in malaria control continues in some countries according to recommendation by the World Health Organization. Individuals exposed to elevated levels of DDT and its metabolite dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) have an increased prevalence of diabetes and insulin resistance. Here we hypothesize that perinatal exposure to DDT disrupts metabolic programming leading to impaired metabolism in adult offspring. To test this, we administered DDT to C57BL/6J mice from gestational day 11.5 to postnatal day 5 and studied their metabolic phenotype at several ages up to nine months. Perinatal DDT exposure reduced core body temperature, impaired cold tolerance, decreased energy expenditure, and produced a transient early-life increase in body fat in female offspring. When challenged with a high fat diet for 12 weeks in adulthood, female offspring perinatally exposed to DDT developed glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia, and altered bile acid metabolism. Perinatal DDT exposure combined with high fat feeding in adulthood further impaired thermogenesis as evidenced by reductions in core temperature and in the expression of numerous RNA that promote thermogenesis and substrate utilization in the brown adipose tissue of adult female mice. These observations suggest that perinatal DDT exposure impairs thermogenesis and the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids which may increase susceptibility to the metabolic syndrome in adult female offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere103337
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 30 Jul 2014


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