The Impact of Di-isononyl Phthalate Exposure on Specialized Epithelial Cells in the Colon

Karen Chiu, Shah Tauseef Bashir, Justin Chiu, Romana A Nowak, Jodi A Flaws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) is a high-molecular-weight phthalate commonly used as a plasticizer for polyvinyl chloride and other end products, such as medical devices and construction materials. Most of our initial exposure to DiNP occurs by ingestion of DiNP-contaminated foods. However, little is known about the effects of DiNP on the colon. Therefore, the goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that DiNP exposure alters immune responses and impacts specialized epithelial cells in the colon. To test this hypothesis, adult female mice were orally dosed with corn-oil vehicle control or doses of DiNP ranging from 20 μg/kg/d to 200 mg/kg/d for 10-14 days. After the dosing period, mice were euthanized in diestrus, and colon tissues and sera were collected for histological, genomic, and proteomic analysis of various immune factors and specialized epithelial cells. Subacute exposure to DiNP significantly increased protein levels of Ki67 and MUC2, expression of a Paneth cell marker (Lyz1), and estradiol levels in sera compared with control. Gene expression of mucins (Muc1, Muc2, Muc3a, and Muc4), Toll-like receptors (Tlr4 and Tlr5), and specialized epithelial cells (ChgA, Lgr5, Cd24a, and Vil1) were not significantly different between treatment groups and control. Cytokine levels of IL-1RA and CXCL12 were also not significantly different between DiNP treatment groups and control. These data reveal that DiNP exposure increases circulating estradiol levels and gene expression in specialized epithelial cells with immune response capabilities (eg, goblet and Paneth cells) in the mouse colon, which may initiate immune responses to prevent further damage in the colon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-153
Number of pages12
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
Early online dateAug 28 2021
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • di-isononyl phthalate
  • di-isononyl phthalate, colon, inflammation, endocrine disruption, specialized epithelial cells
  • endocrine disruption
  • inflammation
  • colon
  • specialized epithelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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