Mice develop diabetes after exposure to maternal exposure.
A new UC Riverside study shows that flame retardants, found in almost every American household, lead to offspring of diabetics in mice.
These flame retardants, called PBDEs, have been linked to diabetes in adult humans. This study shows that PBDEs cause diabetes in mice exposed to the chemical only through their mothers.
“The mice received PBDE from their mothers in the womb and from breast milk as young babies,” said Elena Kozlova, lead study author and doctoral student in neuroscience at UC Riverside. “Notably, in adulthood, the female offspring developed diabetes long after exposure to the chemicals.”
The results of the study were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
PBDEs are common household chemicals that are added to furniture, upholstery, and electronics to prevent fires. They are released into the air that people breathe in their homes, cars, and airplanes because their chemical bond to surfaces is weak.
“PBDEs are everywhere in the house. They are impossible to completely avoid, “said UCR neuroscientist and author of the study, Dr. Margarita Curras-Collazo.
“Although the production and import of the most harmful PBDEs into the US has been banned, inadequate recycling of products containing them has continued to leach PBDEs into the water, soil and air. As a result, researchers continue to find them in human blood, fat, fetal tissues, and breast milk in countries around the world. ”
Curras-Collazo and her team wanted to understand whether these chemicals could have harmful effects on children of mothers exposed to PBDE, as they have previously been linked to diabetes in adult men and women, as well as pregnant women. However, such experiments can only be carried out on mice.
Diabetes leads to increased blood sugar or blood sugar levels. After a meal, the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that helps cells use glucose sugar from food. When cells are resistant to insulin, it doesn’t work as intended and blood glucose levels remain high even if no food is eaten.
Chronically high glucose levels can damage the eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves. It can also lead to life threatening conditions.
“This study is unique because we tested both the mothers and their offspring for all of the characteristics of diabetes in humans,” said Curras-Collazo. “This type of test has not been done before, especially on female offspring.”
The researchers gave PBDE to the mice in small amounts, comparable to the average exposure to the human environment during both pregnancy and lactation.
All babies developed glucose intolerance, high fasting glucose levels, insulin insensitivity, and low blood insulin levels, all of which are hallmarks of diabetes. In addition, the researchers found that the babies had high levels of endocannabinoids in the liver, which are molecules associated with appetite, metabolism, and obesity.
Although the mothers developed some glucose intolerance, they were not as affected as their offspring.
“Our results show that chemicals in the environment, such as PBDE, can be passed from mother to offspring and exposure to them during early development is harmful,” said Curras-Collazo.
The research team believes that future longitudinal human studies are needed to determine the long-term consequences of PBDE exposure at a young age.
“We need to know if human babies who are exposed to PBDE both before and after birth will become diabetic children and adults,” Kozlova said.
In the meantime, Curras-Collazo advises people to limit PBDE exposure by washing hands, vacuuming frequently, and buying furniture and other products that don’t contain them before eating. She also hopes that expectant mothers are well informed about stealth environmental chemicals that can affect their unborn and developing children, as well as their breast milk.
“We believe that the benefits babies get from breast milk far outweigh the risks of passing PBDE on to children. We don’t recommend restricting breastfeeding, ”she said. “But let’s stand up for protecting breast milk and our bodies from killer couch chemicals.”
Reference: “Maternal transfer of environmentally relevant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) creates a diabetic phenotype and disrupts glucoregulatory hormones and hepatic endocannabinoids in adult female offspring of mice” by Elena V. Kozlova, Bhuvaneswari D. Chinthirla, Pedro A. Pérez, Nicholas V . DiPatrizio, Donovan A. Argueta, Allison L. Phillips, Heather M. Stapleton, Gwendolyn M. González, Julia M. Krum, Valeria Carrillo, Anthony E. Bishay, Karthik R. Basappa and Margarita C. Currás-Collazo, 22. October 2020, Scientific Reports.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-74853-9