Prolonged atrazine exposure beginning in utero and adult uterine morphology in mice

Meaghan J. Griffiths, Amy L. Winship, Jessica M. Stringer, Elyse O. Swindells, Alesia P. Harper, Bethany J. Finger, Karla J. Hutt, Mark P. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Through drinking water, humans are commonly exposed to atrazine, a herbicide that acts as an endocrine and metabolic disruptor. It interferes with steroidogenesis, including promoting oestrogen production and altering cell metabolism. However, its precise impact on uterine development remains unknown. This study aimed to determine the effect of prolonged atrazine exposure on the uterus. Pregnant mice (n = 5/group) received 5 mg/kg body weight/day atrazine or DMSO in drinking water from gestational day 9.5 until weaning. Offspring continued to be exposed until 3 or 6 months of age (n = 5-9/group), when uteri were collected for morphological and molecular analyses and steroid quantification. Endometrial hyperplasia and leiomyoma were evident in the uteri of atrazine-exposed mice. Uterine oestrogen concentration, oestrogen receptor expression, and localisation were similar between groups, at both ages (P > 0.1). The expression and localisation of key epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) genes and proteins, critical for tumourigenesis, remained unchanged between treatments, at both ages (P > 0.1). Hence, oestrogen-mediated changes to established EMT markers do not appear to underlie abnormal uterine morphology evident in atrazine exposure mice. This is the first report of abnormal uterine morphology following prolonged atrazine exposure starting in utero, it is likely that the abnormalities identified would negatively affect female fertility, although mechanisms remain unknown and require further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • atrazine
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemical
  • endometrium
  • Keywords:
  • oestrogen
  • uterus

Cite this