Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is a plasticizer commonly found in polyvinyl chloride, medical equipment, and food packaging. DEHP has been shown to target the reproductive system and alter the gut microbiome in humans and experimental animals. However, very little is known about the impact of DEHP-induced microbiome changes and its effects during pregnancy. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the effects of DEHP exposure during pregnancy on the cecal microbiome and pregnancy outcomes. Specifically, this study tested the hypothesis that subacute exposure to DEHP during pregnancy alters the cecal microbiome in pregnant mice, leading to changes in birth outcomes. To test this hypothesis, pregnant dams were orally exposed to corn oil vehicle or 20 µg/kg/day DEHP for 10 days and euthanized 21 days after their last dose. Cecal contents were collected for 16S Illumina and shotgun metagenomic sequencing. Fertility studies were also conducted to examine whether DEHP exposure impacted birth outcomes. Subacute exposure to environmentally relevant doses of DEHP in pregnant dams significantly increased alpha diversity and significantly altered beta diversity. Furthermore, DEHP exposure during pregnancy significantly increased the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and decreased the relative abundance of Firmicutes and Deferribacteres compared with controls. The affected taxonomic families included Deferribacteraceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Mucisprillum. In addition to changes in the gut microbiota, DEHP exposure significantly altered 14 functional pathways compared with the control. Finally, DEHP exposure did not significantly impact the fertility and birth outcomes compared with the control. Collectively, these data indicate that DEHP exposure during pregnancy shifts the cecal microbiome, but the shifts do not impact fertility and birth outcomes.
- Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
- Endocrine-disrupting chemicals
- Gestational exposure
- Gut microbiome
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Health and Safety
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis