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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Occurrence of late-apoptotic symptoms in porcine preimplantation embryos upon exposure of oocytes to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) under in vitro meiotic maturation

Leclercq, Anna; Ranefall, Petter; Sjunnesson, Ylva; Hallberg, Ida


The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effect of perfluoroalkyl substances on early embryonic development and apoptosis in blastocysts using a porcine in vitro model. Porcine oocytes (N = 855) collected from abattoir ovaries were subjected to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) (0.1 μg/ml) and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) (40 μg/ml) during in vitro maturation (IVM) for 45 h. The gametes were then fertilized and cultured in vitro, and developmental parameters were recorded. After 6 days of culture, resulting blastocysts (N = 146) were stained using a terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay and imaged as stacks using confocal laser scanning microscopy. Proportion of apoptotic cells as well as total numbers of nuclei in each blastocyst were analyzed using objective image analysis. The experiment was run in 9 replicates, always with a control present. Effects on developmental parameters were analyzed using logistic regression, and effects on apoptosis and total numbers of nuclei were analyzed using linear regression. Higher cell count was associated with lower proportion of apoptotic cells, i.e., larger blastocysts contained less apoptotic cells. Upon PFAS exposure during IVM, PFHxS tended to result in higher blastocyst rates on day 5 post fertilization (p = 0.07) and on day 6 post fertilization (p = 0.05) as well as in higher apoptosis rates in blastocysts (p = 0.06). PFHxS resulted in higher total cell counts in blastocysts (p = 0.002). No effects attributable to the concentration of PFOS used here was seen. These findings add to the evidence that some perfluoroalkyl substances may affect female reproduction. More studies are needed to better understand potential implications for continued development as well as for human health.

Published in

2022, Volume: 17, number: 12, article number: e0279551