Biol Trace Elem Res. 2023 Oct 13. Epub 2023 Oct 13. PMID: 37828391
Chronic Fluoride Exposure Induces Ovarian Dysfunction and Potential Association with Premature Ovarian Failure in Female Rats.
Chronic fluorosis has been widely investigated for its adverse effects on skeletal and neurological health; however, its impact on reproductive health, especially in females, remains underexplored. In this study, female Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to different fluoride concentrations (0.75, 50, and 100 mg/L) in their drinking water for six months. Dental fluorosis and increased urinary fluoride content were observed in fluoride-exposed rats, reflecting fluoride accumulation and exposure levels. Chronic fluorosis resulted in reduced ovary organ coefficient, indicating harmful effects on ovarian tissue. Additionally, the number of ovarian primordial and primary/secondary follicles decreased, while the number of atresia follicles increased. Furthermore, chronic fluorosis led to disrupted estrous cycles. Hormonal analysis revealed altered secretion of estrogen, progesterone, anti-Müllerian hormone, luteinizing hormone, follicular stimulating hormone, and inhibin B in response to fluoride exposure. Ultrastructural observation of ovarian granulosa cells showed evidence of apoptosis, which was further confirmed by flow cytometry. Caspase-3 activity was increased, and ATP levels were decreased, suggesting mitochondrial impairment and apoptosis induction. The mRNA and protein expression of BMP15 and GDF9, essential regulators of ovarian function, significantly decreased with increasing fluoride concentration. Furthermore, gene expression analysis identified a panel of premature ovarian failure-related genes that were downregulated in fluoride-exposed rat ovaries. These findings suggest that chronic fluoride exposure may contribute to ovarian dysfunction and possibly the pathogenesis of premature ovarian failure. Understanding the toxicological effects of chronic fluoride exposure on ovarian function is essential for identifying potential environmental risk factors affecting female reproductive health.