The exposure to dioxin can compromise pregnancy outcomes and increase the risk of preterm births. 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p
-dioxin (TCDD) has been demonstrated to induce placental hypoxia at the end of pregnancy in a rat model, and hypoxia has been suggested to be the cause of abnormal trophoblast differentiation and placental insufficiency syndromes. In this study, we demonstrate that the non-hypoxic stimulation of human trophoblastic cells by TCDD strongly increased hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) stabilization. TCDD exposure induced the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide. TCDD-induced HIF-1α stabilization and Akt phosphorylation was inhibited by pretreatment with wortmannin (a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor) or N
-acetylcysteine (a ROS scavenger). The augmented HIF-1α stabilization by TCDD occurred via the ROS-dependent activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway. Additionally, a significant increase in invasion and metallomatrix protease-9 activity was found in TCDD-treated cells. The gene expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and placental growth factor was induced upon TCDD stimulation, whereas the protein levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), PPARγ coactivator-1α, mitochondrial transcription factor, and uncoupling protein 2 were decreased. Our results indicate that an activated HIF-1α pathway, elicited oxidative stress, and induced metabolic stress contribute to TCDD-induced trophoblastic toxicity. These findings may provide molecular insight into the TCDD-induced impairment of trophoblast function and placental development.
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