Melatonin rescues the reproductive toxicity of low-dose glyphosate-based herbicide during mouse oocyte maturation via the GPER signaling pathway.


Cao M(1)(2), Wang Y(3), Yang F(4), Li J(5), Qin X(5).
Author information:
(1)State Key Laboratory of Molecular Developmental Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
(2)University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
(3)Ministry of Education and Department of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China.
(4)Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Hanting District, Weifang, China.
(5)Joint Graduate Program of Peking-Tsinghua-NIBS, School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.


Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are a group of widely used broad-spectrum agricultural pesticides. Due to the recalcitrance of GBH, it has been found in food and environment as a contaminant, posing a threat to public health. The health risks associated with GBH have been indicated by reporting acute toxicity data (an acute exposure of GBH at a 0.5% dose), which primarily discuss toxicity in relation to accidental high-rate exposure. Currently, there is little information regarding the toxicity of GBH at environmentally relevant levels. In this study, we used mature mouse oocytes to study the toxic effects of low-dose GBH exposure in vitro (0.00001%-0.00025%) and in vivo (0.0005%, orally administered through daily drinking water) during meiotic maturation. GBH exposure led to meiotic maturation failure with spindle defects and chromosome misalignment. In addition, GBH treatment severely reduced sperm-binding ability and disrupted early embryo cleavage. Moreover, GBH exposure significantly increased the reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and apoptotic rates. Evidence indicates that such effects in GBH-exposed oocytes are likely due to overexpression of the G-protein estrogen receptor (GPER/GPR30). Remarkably, we found that melatonin administration elicited significant protection against GBH-induced oocyte deterioration via preserving the expression of GPR30, along with activation of its downstream signaling event (pERK/ERK). Taken together, these results revealed that low-dose glyphosate has a certain adverse effect on oocyte maturation and early embryo cleavage, and highlight the protective roles of melatonin.