Journal Article

Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS)-induced Sertoli cell injury through a disruption of F-actin and microtubule organization is mediated by Akt1/2

PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonate, or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) is an anthropogenic fluorosurfactant widely used in consumer products. While its use in Europe, Canada and the U.S. has been banned due to its human toxicity, it continues to be used in China and other developing countries as a global pollutant. Herein, using an in vitro model of Sertoli cell blood-testis barrier (BTB), PFOS was found to induce Sertoli cell injury by perturbing actin cytoskeleton through changes in the spatial expression of actin regulatory proteins. Specifically, PFOS caused mis-localization of Arp3 (actin-related protein 3, a branched actin polymerization protein) and palladin (an actin bundling protein). These disruptive changes thus led to a dis-organization of F-actin across Sertoli cell cytosol, causing truncation of actin microfilament, thereby failing to support the Sertoli cell morphology and adhesion protein complexes (e.g., occludin-ZO-1, CAR-ZO-1, and N-cadherin-ß-catenin), through a down-regulation of p-Akt1-S473 and p-Akt2-S474. The use of SC79, an Akt1/2 inhibitor, was found to block the PFOS-induced Sertoli cell injury by rescuing the PFOS-induced F-actin dis-organization. These findings thus illustrate PFOS exerts its disruptive effects on Sertoli cell function downstream through Akt1/2. As such, PFOS-induced male reproductive dysfunction can possibly be managed through an intervention on Akt1/2 expression.