CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
Antimicrobial soaps cross placenta affecting baby
Ultimately, these chemicals could negatively affect our health, say scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL). Their research appears in the Aug. 9 edition of PLOS ONE.
This study is the first to quantify the rate at which TCC, an environmental contaminant, transfers from mother to child. TCC is among the top 10 most commonly detected contaminants found in water.
Results of the study suggest alterations to genes involved in lipid metabolism in exposed female mouse pups are the result of TCC affects on fat and liver triglycerides. Lipids are molecules that include fats, waxes, fat-soluble vitamins, and three glycerides: mono, di, and tri — all of which store energy and promote signal transfer between cells. Simultaneously, lipids make up the cell membrane.
"Our results are significant because of the risk of exposure to TCC through contaminated water and in our living environment. Early life exposure to TCC has the potential to cause irreversible outcomes due to the fragile nature of fetal development," says Heather Enright of the Biosciences and Biotechnology Division of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The team studied mice during gestation and lactation to see if, in fact, exposure to TCC does transfer from mother to child. They laced TCC with carbon-14 in order to trace how the contaminant becomes distributed within organ systems of female mice and their offspring.
Using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), Enright and her colleagues measured TCC concentrations in mouse pups and their mothers after exposure. AMS can measure very low concentrations of compounds with extreme accuracy and track how those compounds are distributed and excreted over long periods of time.
"We demonstrate that TCC effectively transfers from mother to offspring, both trans-placentally and via lactation. Exposure to TCC during development may pose a serious health risk to the developing embryo and fetus, as they are more sensitive to alterations in hormone levels, which may result in changes which are often irreversible."
TCC related compounds were found at significantly higher concentrations in the brain, heart and fat of pups. Additionally, pups exposed weighed more than unexposed pups reflecting an 11 percent increase in body weight for females and 8.5 percent increase in males.
Triclocarban (TCC) is among the top 10 most commonly detected wastewater contaminants in both concentration and frequency. Its presence in water, as well as its propensity to bioaccumulate, has raised numerous questions about potential endocrine and developmental effects. Here, we investigated whether exposure to an environmentally relevant concentration of TCC could result in transfer from mother to offspring in CD-1 mice during gestation and lactation using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). 14C-TCC (100 nM) was administered to dams through drinking water up to gestation day 18, or from birth to post-natal day 10. AMS was used to quantify 14C-concentrations in offspring and dams after exposure. We demonstrated that TCC does effectively transfer from mother to offspring, both trans-placentally and via lactation. TCC-related compounds were detected in the tissues of offspring with significantly higher concentrations in the brain, heart and fat. In addition to transfer from mother to offspring, exposed offspring were heavier in weight than unexposed controls demonstrating an 11% and 8.5% increase in body weight for females and males, respectively. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to examine changes in gene expression in liver and adipose tissue in exposed offspring. qPCR suggested alterations in genes involved in lipid metabolism in exposed female offspring, which was consistent with the observed increased fat pad weights and hepatic triglycerides. This study represents the first report to quantify the transfer of an environmentally relevant concentration of TCC from mother to offspring in the mouse model and evaluate bio-distribution after exposure using AMS. Our findings suggest that early-life exposure to TCC may interfere with lipid metabolism and could have implications for human health.
Other Livermore researchers include: Miranda Falso (now at Slippery Rock University), Michael Malfatti, Victoria Lao, Edward Kuhn, Nicholas Hum, Yilan Shi (now at Bio-rad), Ana Sales, Kurt Haack, Kristen Kulp, Bruce Buchholz, Gabriela Loots, Graham Bench and Ken Turteltaub.
The work was funded by LLNL's Laboratory Research and Development Program and the National Institutes of Health.
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides solutions to our nation's most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Return to top of page
Image credit: public domain