Epidemiological studies have consistently shown an association between exposure to environmental pollutants and diabetes risk in humans. We have previously shown that direct exposure of mouse and human islets (endocrine pancreas) to the highly persistent pollutant TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) causes reduced insulin secretion ex vivo. Furthermore, a single high-dose of TCDD (200 µg/kg) suppressed both fasting and glucose-induced plasma insulin levels and promoted beta-cell apoptosis after 7 days in male mice. The current study investigated the longer-term effects of a single high-dose TCDD injection (20 µg/kg) on glucose metabolism and beta cell function in male and female C57Bl/6 mice. TCDD-exposed males displayed modest fasting hypoglycemia for ~4 weeks post-injection, reduced fasting insulin levels for up to 6 weeks, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased beta cell area, and increased delta cell area. TCDD-exposed females also had long-term suppressed basal plasma insulin levels, and abnormal insulin secretion for up to 6 weeks. Unlike males, TCDD did not impact insulin sensitivity or islet composition in females, but did cause transient glucose intolerance 4 weeks post-exposure. Our results show that a single exposure to dioxin can suppress basal insulin levels long-term in both sexes, but effects on glucose homeostasis are sex-dependent.

Scientific Reports
Department of Biology

Hoyeck, M.P. (Myriam P.), Blair, H. (Hannah), Ibrahim, M. (Muna), Solanki, S. (Shivani), Elsawy, M. (Mariam), Prakash, A. (Arina), … Bruin, J.E. (2020). Long-term metabolic consequences of acute dioxin exposure differ between male and female mice. Scientific Reports, 10(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-020-57973-0