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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Endocrine Disorders 1/2015

Influence of phthalates on glucose homeostasis and atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic mice

BMC Endocrine Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Wei Zhou, Mei-Hua Chen, Weibin SHI
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

WS designed the study; WZ, MHC, and WS performed experoments; WZ and WS analyzed, interpreted data and drafted the manuscript; and WZ, MHC and WS approved the version of the manuscript.



Phthalates are widely used as plasticizer and are considered as a typical endocrine-disrupting chemical. Epidemiological studies have associated serum or urinary phthalate metabolites with the prevalence of type 2 diabetes or related phenotypes. However, direct evidence supporting a causal role for exposure to phthalates in type 2 diabetes is lacking.


To determine the potential influence of phthalates on glucose homeostasis and atherosclerosis, female apolipoprotein E-deficient (Apoe−/−) mice were started at 6 weeks of age on a Western diet together with or without Bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. Phthalate was administered in drinking water at a daily dosage of 100 mg/kg. We examined glucose and insulin tolerance, plasma glucose and triglyceride levels, body weight, and atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic root.


Two weeks after treatment, phthalate-exposed mice had significantly higher fasting blood glucose level (97.9 ± 2.1 vs. 84.3 ± 5.3 mg/dl, P = 0.034) and exhibited a trend of increased glucose intolerance compared to control mice. Insulin tolerance test on non-fasted mice 3 weeks after treatment revealed that phthalate had little influence on insulin sensitivity though phthalate-treated mice had a higher glucose concentration (159.2 ± 6.0 vs. 145.2 ± 3.6 mg/dl; P = 0.086). On the Western diet, Apoe−/− mice showed a time-dependent rise in fasting plasma glucose and triglyceride levels. However, no significant differences were observed between phthalate-treated and control mice in either phenotype after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of phthalate exposure. Neither body weight nor atherosclerotic lesions of Apoe−/− mice was affected.


This study indicates that exposure to phthalates gives rise to a brief interference of glucose homeostasis but has little impact on the development of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis in Apoe−/− mice.
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