Molecular mechanisms through which DES triggers thymic atrophy, specifically autophagy

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) induces autophagy in thymocytes by regulating Beclin-1 expression through epigenetic modulation

2018 Study Abstract

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is an endocrine disruptor that was used to prevent adverse effects of pregnancy in women in late 1940s until early 1970s. Its use was banned following significant toxicity and negative effects not only in the mothers but also transgenerationally.

Previous studies from our laboratory showed that DES induces thymic atrophy and immunosuppression in mice.

In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms through which DES triggers thymic atrophy, specifically autophagy.

To that end, we treated C57BL/6 mice with DES, and determined expression of two autophagy-related proteins, microtubule-associated protein-1 light chain 3 (LC3) and Beclin-1 (Becn1).

We observed that DES-induced thymic atrophy was associated with increased autophagy in thymocytes and significant upregulation in the expression of both Becn1 and LC3. DES also caused downregulation in the expression of miR-30a in thymocytes, and transfection studies revealed that miR-30a targeted Becn1. Upon examination of methylation status of Becn1, we noted hypomethylation of Becn1 in thymocytes of mice exposed to DES.

Together, these data demonstrate for the first time that DES induces autophagy in thymocytes potentially through epigenetic changes involving hypomethylation of Becn1 and down-regulation of miR-30a expression.

Reference

  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) induces autophagy in thymocytes by regulating Beclin-1 expression through epigenetic modulation, Toxicology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 30153466, 2018 Dec.
  • Featured image sweattlab/daves-art.
DES DIETHYLSTILBESTROL RESOURCES

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