Mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate induces oxidative stress and inhibits growth of mouse ovarian antral follicles

Wei Wang, Zelieann R. Craig, Mallikarjuna S. Basavarajappa, Katlyn S. Hafner, Jodi A. Flaws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) is the active metabolite of the most commonly used plasticizer, di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, and is considered to be a reproductive toxicant. However, little is known about the effects of MEHP on ovarian antral follicles. Thus, the present study tested the hypothesis that MEHP inhibits follicle growth via oxidative stress pathways. The data indicate that MEHP increases reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and inhibits follicle growth in antral follicles, whereas Nacetylcysteine (NAC; an antioxidant) restores ROS levels to control levels and rescues follicles from MEHP-induced inhibition of follicle growth. To further analyze the mechanism by which MEHP induces oxidative stress and inhibits follicle growth, the expression and activities of various key antioxidant enzymes (copper/zinc superoxide dismutase [SOD1], glutathione peroxidase [GPX], and catalase [CAT]) and the expression of key cell-cycle regulators (Ccnd2, Ccne1, and Cdk4) and apoptotic regulators (Bcl-2 and Bax) were compared in control and MEHP-treated follicles. The data indicate that MEHP inhibits the expression and activities of SOD1 and GPX; does not inhibit Cat expression; inhibits the expression of Ccnd2, Ccne1, Cdk4, and Bcl-2; but increases the expression of Bax compared to controls. Furthermore, NAC blocks these toxic effects of MEHP. Collectively, these data suggest that MEHP induces oxidative stress by disrupting the activities of antioxidant enzymes. This may lead to decreased expression of cell-cycle regulators and antiapoptotic regulators and increased expression of proapoptotic factors, which then may lead to inhibition of follicle growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Ovary
  • Oxidative stress
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate induces oxidative stress and inhibits growth of mouse ovarian antral follicles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this