BPDE and B[a]P induce mitochondrial compromise by ROS-mediated suppression of the SIRT1/TERT/PGC-1α pathway in spermatogenic cells both in vitro and in vivo.


Key Lab for the Medical Protection of Electromagnetic Radiation, Ministry of Education of China, Institute of Toxicology, College of Preventive Medicine, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China. Electronic address: [Email]


There is increasing evidence that indicates benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) and its active metabolite benzo[a]pyrene-7, 8-dihydrodiol-9, 10-epoxide (BPDE) are endocrine disruptors that can cause reproductive toxicity. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms are still obscure. The present study investigates the impacts of B[a]P and BPDE on mitochondria, a sensitive target affected by multiple chemicals, in spermatogenic cells. It showed that BPDE treatment induced mitochondrial dysfunction and the inhibition of mitochondrial biogenesis in mouse spermatocyte-derived cells (GC-2). These effects were efficiently mitigated by pretreatment with ZLN005, an activator of PGC-1α, in GC-2 cells. TERT knockdown and re-expression cell models were established to demonstrate that TERT regulated the BPDE-induced mitochondrial damage via PGC-1α signaling in GC-2 cells. Moreover, upregulating or knockdown SIRT1 expression attenuated or aggravated BPDE-induced mitochondrial compromise by activating or inhibiting, respectively, the TERT and PGC-1α molecules in GC-2 cells. Finally, we observed that BPDE markedly elevated oxidative stress in GC-2 cells. Resveratrol and N-acetylcysteine, as reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers, attenuated BPDE-mediated mitochondrial damage by increasing SIRT1 activity and expression in GC-2 cells. The in vitro results were corroborated by in vivo experiments in rats treated with B[a]P for 4 weeks. B[a]P administration caused mitochondrial damage and mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in spermatogenic cells, as well as the decreased expression of SIRT1, TERT, and PGC-1α. In summary, the results of the present study demonstrate that B[a]P and BPDE induce mitochondrial damage through ROS production that suppresses SIRT1/TERT/PGC-1a signaling and mediate B[a]P- and BPDE-mediated reproductive toxicity.


Benzo[a]pyrene,Benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-dihydrodiol-9,10-epoxide,Male reproductive toxicity,Mitochondrial damage,Reactive oxygen species,