In vivo induction of DNA changes in cervicovaginal epithelium by perinatal estrogen exposure

Richard Allen Hajek, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Epidemiological studies have associated estrogens with human neoplasm such as the endometrium, cervix, vagina, breast, and liver. Perinatal exposure to natural (17$\beta$-estradiol (17$\beta$-E$\sb2)\rbrack$ and synthetic (diethylstilbestrol (DES)) estrogens induces neoplastic changes in humans and rodents. Previous studies demonstrated that neonatal 17$\beta$-E$\sb2$ treatment increased the nuclear DNA content of mouse cervicovaginal epithelium that preceded histologically evident neoplasia. In order to determine whether this effect was specific to 17$\beta$-E$\sb2,$ associated with chromosomal changes, and relevant to the human, female BALB/c mice were treated neonatally with either 17$\alpha$-estradiol (17$\alpha$-E$\sb2)$ and 5$\beta$-dihydrotestosterone ($5\beta$-DHT), both inactive steroids in adult reproductive tissue, or 17$\beta$-E$\sb2.$ Ten-day-old mice received pellet implants of 17$\beta$-E$\sb2,$ 17$\alpha$-E$\sb2,$ $5\beta$-DHT, or cholesterol. Seventy-day-old cervicovaginal tracts were examined histologically and flow cytometrically. 17$\beta$-E$\sb2$-treated animals were evaluated by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) using a probe specific for chromosome 1. Trisomy of chromosomes 1, 7, 11, and 17 was evaluated by FISH in cervicovaginal material from 19 DES-exposed and 19 control patients. $17\beta$-E$\sb2, 17\alpha$-E$\sb2$, and $5\beta$-DHT-induced dramatic developmental and histological changes in the cervicovaginal tract, including hypospadia, hyperplasia, and persistent cornification. The changes induced by 17$\alpha$-E$\sb2$ were equivalent to 17$\beta$-E$\sb2.$ Neonatal 17$\alpha$-E$\sb2$-induced adenosquamous cervicovaginal tumors at 24 months. 17$\alpha$-E$\sb2$ and $5\beta$-DHT significantly increased the nuclear DNA content over control animals, but at significantly lower levels than 17$\beta$-E$\sb2.$ DNA ploidy changes were highest (80%) in animals treated neonatally and secondarily with 17$\beta$-E$\sb2.$ Secondary 17$\alpha$-E$\sb2$ and $5\beta$-DHT administration, unlike 17$\beta$-E$\sb2,$ didn't significantly increase DNA content. Chromosome 1 trisomy incidence was 66% in neonatal 17$\beta$-E$\sb2$-treated animals. Trisomy was evident in 4 DES-exposed patients: one patient with trisomy of chromosomes 1, 7, and 11; one patient with chromosome 7 trisomy; and two patients with chromosome 1 trisomy. These data demonstrated the biological effects of 17$\alpha$-E$\sb2$ and $5\beta$-DHT were age-dependent, 17$\alpha$-E$\sb2$ was equivalent to 17$\beta$-E$\sb2$ and tumorigenic when administered neonatally, and histological changes were not steroid specific. Chromosomal changes were associated with increased nuclear DNA content and chromosomal changes may be an early event in the development of tumors in human DES-exposed tissues.

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Recommended Citation

Hajek, Richard Allen, "In vivo induction of DNA changes in cervicovaginal epithelium by perinatal estrogen exposure" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9514313.