Transcriptomic modifications of the thyroid gland upon exposure to phytosanitary-grade fipronil: Evidence for the activation of compensatory pathways


Fipronil is a phenylpyrazole insecticide used for the control of a variety of pest for domestic, veterinary and agricultural uses. Fipronil exposure is associated to thyroid disruption in the rat. It increases thyroid hormone (TH) hepatic clearance. The effect on thyroxine (T4) clearance is about four fold higher than the effect on T4 plasma concentrations suggesting that the thyroid gland might develop compensatory mechanisms. The aim of this study was to document the potential effects of fipronil treatment on the thyroid transcriptome together with its effects on TSH and TH blood levels under well characterized internal exposure to fipronil and its main metabolite fipronil sulfone. Fipronil (3 mg/kg/d by gavage for 14 days) clearance increased while its half-life decreased (about 10 fold) throughout treatment. Fipronil treatment in adult female rats significantly decreased total T4 and free triiodothyronine (T3) concentrations. Key genes related to thyroid hormone synthesis and/or cellular dynamic were modulated by fipronil exposure. RT-PCR confirmed that thyroglobulin gene expression was upregulated. A trend toward higher Na/I symporter expression was also noted, while sulfotransferase 1a1 gene expression was down-regulated. The expression of genes potentially involved in thyroid cell dynamic were upregulated (e.g. prostaglandin synthase 1, amphiregulin and Rhoa). Our results indicate that both pathways of TH synthesis and thyroid cell dynamics are transcriptional targets of fipronil and/or its main sulfone metabolite. The underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated.

Toxicology and applied pharmacology