Impact of mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) on the development of mouse embryo in vitro

Rachel Braz Arcanjo, Marcos Costa Vieira, Mayandi Sivaguru, Romana A. Nowak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) is the most studied metabolite of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a phthalate found in cosmetics, flooring, paints, and plastics products, including toys and medical tubing. Humans are frequently exposed to this compound due to its ubiquitous presence in our environment. DEHP and MEHP are known to be endocrine-disrupting chemicals and exposure levels have been associated to decreased reproductive success. However, few studies have focused on the direct effects of MEHP on embryos. The present study investigated effects of MEHP (0.1, 1, 10, 100 and 1000 µM) on mice preimplantation embryonic development, evaluating percentage of blastocyst formation, hatching from zona pellucida, methylation-related genes, cell lineage commitment, micronucleation, and adherens junction marker at different stages of development during in vitro culture for 6 days. We show MEHP negatively impacts embryo competence by reducing blastocyst formation and hatching at 100 and 1000 µM. In addition, 100 µM MEHP increases the expression of Tet3 gene in blastocysts, which is related to a reduction of DNA methylation, an important mechanism regulating gene expression. Exposed embryos that completed the hatching process in groups 0.1, 1 and 10 µM MEHP had similar number of inner cell mass and trophectoderm cells compared to the control, while micronucleation occurrence and E-cadherin expression was not affected in exposed morulae by MEHP at 10 or 100 µM. Our results showed that high concentrations of MEHP can negatively impact embryo development. New studies unveiling the mechanism of toxicity involved and encompassing further developmental stages are warranted for further understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalReproductive Toxicology
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Cavitation
  • E-cadherin
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC)
  • Hatching
  • Methylation
  • Micronuclei
  • Mouse blastocyst
  • Preimplantation development
  • Tet3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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